Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Truth About Epidurals

Just read this article on Slate called The Truth About Epidurals which I found enlightening and thought I'd pass on. When I read the title, I got a bit freaked out because I thought it was going to be one of those fear-mongering pieces that make you feel panicked and guilty and shamed about getting an epidural. But, in fact, it was an overview of the research on the modern epidural's safety which was pretty even-keeled and balanced, I thought.

I've interviewed a ton of moms, who've had all different kinds of births - at home, in tubs, hospitals and birthing centers. I've interviewed moms who've used hypno-birthing, moms who've used epidurals, moms who've had C sections, moms who've used acupuncture, moms who used Lamaze, moms who've had births lasting 36 hours and ones whose births took an hour. It is very clear to me after hearing so many amazing stories that -- you guessed it - there is no one right way to have a baby. In many ways (those of us with insurance and without pertinent health considerations, at least) are lucky enough to choose what kind of birth we prefer, which is pretty freaking amazing. So its a shame that we tend to get so defensive about our choices and judgmental when other women go a different way.

I had two amazing childbirth experiences, both in a big teaching hospital, both with big, juicy epidurals. From my perspective, the epidural was one of the best parts of the experience. I remember the childbirths in two parts - BE and AE - Before and After the Epidural. I got the shot at about the same point both times - when I was 6-7 centimeters dilated, which meant I had hours and hours before of what they call a "natural" childbirth (this vocal doesn't annoy me the way it does some women, but it does crack me up. What did I have -- an unnatural childbirth, a supernatural one? Did I bear a cyborg on a UFO?I mean, come on, its silly). My point is, I had pleeeeenty of labor pain. Not the worst of it, not the ring of fire, but plenty. A few minutes into transition, and I got the idea. Totally not for me. Which I knew, going in. I never thought I'd go without an epidural. I was raised by a doctor dad, grew up around hospitals and things like medicine and shots make me feel better, more comfortable, more relaxed. So, getting the epidural was always in the works and boy, did that morphine cocktail deliver.

After Epidural I was relaxed, open, happy. My husband, sister and I listened to Beatles music, and I brushed my hair as I waited in joyful anticipation of meeting my baby. I could feel my legs and the urge to push and I had no problems dilating the last few centimeters after I got the shot. Before Epidural was nice, too, I guess, the way diamond mining must be nice. Greuling, not fun, but gratifying because at the end you know there's a diamond waiting. Yes, its probably the shittiest metaphor about the birth experience you've ever heard and you heard it here, folks, at a mom amok. In conclusion, I loved my epidurals. They injected a big surge of Smiley Happy People back into my birth experience. Can't thank those epidurals enough.

But I also understand that hospitals give a lot of people the heebie jebbies, or maybe its just the idea of shots that freaks 'em out, or a lot of people are curious to experience every moment, unmediated, of childbirth. Hell, there's any number of reasons someone wouldn't want an epidural and that's cool, too. Its like that theme song of that pivotal 80s sitcom used to sing, "Different strokes, it takes different strokes, it takes different strokes to rule the world." Yes it does.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ikea Baby Names

You know you've spent too much time at Ikea when you say to your spouse, "Stuva. Hmmmmn, Would make kind of a lovely name for a girl, right? Right? Or am I crazy? Should we name our daughter Stuva?"

Might be the fumes from the Ikea warehouse talking but seems to me there are a LOT of feasible name options hanging on signs in that Swedish furniture paradise. For instance:
Trofast: the modern day Truman

Expedit: alternative, punk rock

Hemnes: the name of a future avant-guard filmmaker

Mammut: boho, new-agey but with edge

Pax: come on, that one is actually legit

Stuva's my favorite though. David ixnayed it, so take it, its yours. Just don't say I never gave you nothing.

Monday, February 27, 2012

$400 Trash Cans?

My nesting craze has continued unabated, only picking up steam as I near my due date. It was only a matter of time before my organization zeal turned its unrelenting eye to the trash corner of our apartment.

Our kitchen is not so much a kitchen as a corner of the living space which a high density of appliances. I just asked David to estimate how big it is and he guesses 5 x 3. Feet. It is a tiny little crumb of space. And half of it is covered with trash.

I am referring to literal trash We've got our stainless steel, step-top garbage can and that does the job well. But then next to that is our "recycling center." This is a gross overstatement. It consists of two tiny plastic cans, one purple for paper and one mint green for plastic, with no lids, smashed next to the trash can which is smashed next to the oven. Neither one of the recycling bins is large enough to hold more than two standard-sized recyclable items. Put one carton of milk and one soda can in the plastic bin and it is full. So even if I emptied the things out several times a day (and lets be serious for a second, who does that?) it would still always be full and always look like crap.

Mixed in between the three cans is a pile of "what-the-hell-do-we-do-with-this-shit?" garbage. Mainly, this is electronics like an old laptop someone gave me last year which never worked and batteries. I know I'm not supposed to just throw them out but I don't know what the hell to do with them. So they keep the garbage company.

In my travels to other people's houses, I have seen that not all grown-ups live this way, Other people have recycling areas which are well-maintained and tidy. All it took, it appeared, was a decent-sized bunch of recycling bins, one with tops. How hard could that be?

Not hard at all, it turns out. But really freaking expensive.

To the tune of $400.

Don't know precisely when it happened but since the last time I went trash-can-shopping, about a decade ago, garbage cans have become high-end speciality items. They now have features like "Auto-close" and "Motion Sensor." They are all stainless steel. After some cyber-browsing, I discovered if you're in the market for a garbage can, and you don't want- or can't - spend $70 or more, you basically are stuck with a white plastic swing top. Two or which'll still cost you a good $40. The whole thing was demoralizing, almost enough to make me accept my purple and mint-green garbage-y garbage center.

But then Ikea saved the day. Again.

Because in their marketplace, I helped myself to two tall, rectangular lift-top trash cans which can hold up to two or three days worth or recyclables without me having to empty them out. Together, they cost under $30. Perfection. Bliss.

The only problem which remains is that I'm such a hoarder, I can't bear to part with the old recycling bins yet. I am certain there is a good use for them, somewhere. So they still hover in my garbage corner, though they've done from holding the garbage to becoming the garbage. What can I say? Life's tough.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Nesting Craze. Emphasis on Craze.

So, I'm nesting. Like crazy. Full-fledged move-around-the-furniture, Container-Store-get-ready-for-business, organizational explosion of energy. I'd estimate the 99 percent of the tasks I have labored to complete are things which make absolutely no visible difference to people who visit my house. In other words my house still looks like a piece of shit. Its still messy and cluttered. We still are short about three bedrooms. NONETHELESS. Things are way better for those of us who inhabit the tiny abode.

I have replaced the rings which hold the shower curtain in place because the old ones aways fell off and every time I've bended over to retrieve a piece-of-crap shower curtain ring for the past three years, I have vowed to replace them with the kind that close all the way around the rod and now, folks, that immensely annoying circumstance will occur no more . I have fitted cheap Ikea frames with custom mattes so I can finally hang up wall art given to us seven years ago as a baby gift.

I have sorted through the five years' worth of artwork that my son has produced, which I have been shoving into boxes and hoarding like a person on the TV show of the same name. If left un-edited permanently, this collection of artwork would, unquestionably, bury our whole family. In another few years, you'd enter my front door only to find yourself waist-deep in ripped-out spiral-notebook pages covered with line drawings of zombies, and you'd see a desperate, petrified hand reaching out from the sea of paper. That would have been me. Thankfully, nesting saved me

The domestic task which really filled me with gratification, however, was replacing the batteries of an old-school, ten pound flashlight that hasn't worked in, oh, over a decade, and which I have packed and moved from one apartment to the next to this most recent one ALL WITHOUT EVER BOTHERING to change the batteries. At long last, I unscrewed the damn thing. I found out which kind of battery it required (four Ds, like a 1990s boom box). I bought those batteries. I put them in. The feeling I experienced when I pressed the button on the top of the flashlight and the thing responded with ILLUMINATION was amazing, transcendent. It was a rush of euphoria similar to what I remember feeling when I could still drink alcohol, four million years ago, before I became pregnant. It lasted approximately 10 seconds. Still, it was worth it.

This kind of labor, like parenting, goes largely unnoticed and totally under-appreciated. My husband, for instance, who does the dishes and laundry and cleans the bathroom and basically tends to all household cleaning obligations, is not impressed with my sudden and insane burst of organizational zeal and less impressed with its invisible results.

He observed this yesterday, when he walked in to find the sink piled high with dishes, the coffee table laden with crumbs and the toilet clogged: "This house is still a fucking mess."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Time flies

Overheard through the door at bedtime:

Seconda: "When its my birthday, I'm going to be a teenager!"

Crazy part is, the kid'll be 12 going on 13 before I freaking know it, and I'll be remembering how I laughed. Blink of an eye.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Who needs a backbone?

Since I hit about month seven in my pregnancy, I have gradually begun to shape my life around one single, solitary goal: avoiding bending over at all costs.

By this point, 34 weeks, there's no way I could bend over even if I WANTED to. Its structurally impossible, like a walrus doing ballet. Consequently, I have to be much more careful not to drop shit now because if I do, the discarded item will just have to remain there until someone more able-bodied comes along or it rots and is carried off my vermin or -- very rarely -- I devise a super sophisticated way to retrieve it from the floor without the use of my immovable backbone. Like picking stuff up with my feet. I've become somewhat skilled at using my foot like a hook, shimmying it under a towel one of my brutish children threw onto the floor and lifting the leg up until I am able to pass it off to my hand.

By the time I deliver, I may be an honorary monkey. Silver linings, folks.

The other ingenious strategy I use to retrieve things without the use of my hands is to bark orders at my kids. I figure I created those hands and now they can repay the favor my being my proxy hands.

Sometimes I'll be polite about it like, "Honey, can you please pick up that pen for Mommy?"

Usually though, its more like, "Pick up that pen please. [Pause] Now. [Pause] Unless, of course, you're also 8 months pregnant with shooting pain in your back and it is impossible for you to bend over. I mean, for the love of God, how much do I have to suffer in this lifetime before someone will HELP me???"

I'm not proud of it but neither am I proud of having created slovenly children who perpetually have wax in their ears, especially when it comes to cleaning up.

It occurs to me that I could learn a thing or two about creative solutions to never bending over from my 80 year old grandmother. Nonnie is a pretty fit, feisty octogenarian, with a few problem areas including stairs, sprinting and bending over -- pretty much the same as me, in my compromised condition. Her FAVORITE household item is a dustpan attached to a pole which she uses, not just to collect dirt and debris, but to retrieve anything unlucky enough to fall to the floor. Cell phone slipped out of her hand? Sweep it into the magic dustpan and empty the pan on the table. BAM. Who needs a functional spine?

I want one of those dustpans, man, bad. Or maybe, even better, one of those toy robot hands they sell at Cracker Barrels nation-wide. Those are super portable -- I could just stick my robot hand in my purse and hit the town. Once I have the baby and regain use of my spine, I could continue to use the robot hand to reach stuff that's just out of reach without getting my ass off the couch. You can steal that idea if you want to. Put it on your postpartum wish list.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Making Valentines: a cautionary tale

Every year, I take the kids to Rite Aid or Duane Reade and buy them a box of brand character valentines. And every year, I feel guilty about it when they come home with those half a dozen handmade, homemade Valentines from kids with parents going for extra credit. This year, I prepared myself for the take-the-easy-route-and-feel-guilt-afterwards strategy that works so well for our family, but I encountered a glitch.

The stores were sold out of valentines. I'd waited too long.

I checked our local neighborhood toy store which did have some boxes in stock, but only the non-branded-characters-kind which are very nice but cost a stinking dollar each valentine. Our budget just can't afford that level of ease AND classiness.

In this way, I was forced to take the hard-route-but-no-guilt-added path. I don't recommend it. It kind of kills the joy of Valentine's Day, in the same way making homemade stockings for the kids killed the fun of Christmas last year. I will remind you, too, of the Pinata-Making-Debacle. I'm not a crafty person and neither are my kids. We are also all absolutely devoid of patience. This means we should NEVER undertake mass craft projects.

I started with Seconda. She was totally not into the idea of making valentines for anyone, until I reminded her that she might receive some, with candy inside, in return. Then she was willing to expend the effort. The kid is very pragmatic, and all about "what can YOU do for ME?" and I leverage that self-interest to make her do things that will make it appear as though she is magnanimous. In this way, perhaps she will inadvertently become genuinely generous. And people will think well of her. Worth a shot.

Since I hadn't bothered to prepare for this craft odyssey, I didn't have any construction paper but I did have a large roll of butcher paper we bought from our last Ikea spree so I cut that into little rectangles. I got out the mammoth stack of stickers left over from the last birthday party and told her all she had to do was stick some stickers on each piece of paper and maybe draw a heart or two, then sign her name. In other words, bye expectations were managed from the get-go. I didn't even BOTHER asking if she could write the kids' names since I know enough to know that would only lead to ruin. Even when charged with only putting a sticker or two on 17 pieces of paper, her patience ran out after Valentine number 11. I probably should've just drawn the hearts on myself but I felt like the other parents would judge me for making my kids Valentines for her. And really, that's what directs my parenting decisions -- the speculation about what other parents and teachers will think. So instead. I harassed, cajoled, bribed and nagged Sec about drawing hearts on the remaining valentines until we were yelling at each other.

"I AM SICK OF THESE DUMB VALENTINES!" she shouted, tossing the marker across the room.
"ME TOO!" I shouted back, "And these aren't even my friends! Let's just get it over with please! Then you can watch Scooby Doo."

"UUUUUUUUGH!" she groaned, scribbling a very mean-spirited heart on Th.e butcher block, "THERE! NOW I'M DONE!"

"Is that what you call a HEART?" I tried not to yell, "Fine, OK, Fine, just sign your name."

Similar scribbling followed. By the time we'd finished the last Valentine, all hearts in the room had been thoroughly sucked dry of love and happiness. A real victory.

The next day, it was Primo's turn. Beforehand, I checked Rite Aid AGAIN to see if they'd restocked, feeling shaken from our Valentine Craft Disaster the day before. No dice. But my clever little boy had a GENIUS idea.

Frankly, I think he's cracked the whole Valentine thing wide open.

"I'll just make one Valentine card and you can make 24 copies of it," he said.

The kid's got a good head on his shoulders.

In the end, he decided to make three different Valentine templates, one for the peace-loving kids, one for the rock-n-rollers and one for the rough-n-tumble-zombie-lovers. He wrote "From Primo" on each before we copied them so all he had to do was write each kid's name which involved even LESS work then a store bought Valentine. Went off without a hitch.

Next Valentine's Day, its all about the Xerox machine.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Disney Morals

I just took my four year-old to see Beauty and the Beast in the movie theater and now I feel I must atone for that but posting this captioned image which has been circulating like mad on Facebook. I particularly enjoy the Beauty one because that story is the one I've been able to spin so that there's a decent morale to it -- its what's on the INSIDE that counts -- except that, yes, this caption is right, it only applies to men. And anyway, your toad will probably turn into a prince in the end anyway, so really you only have to tolerate his freakish appearance for a limited period of time.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

This author should have her writer license revoked

I typically don't enjoy trash-talking people, much less other writers, and I am the first to admit that perhaps I'm a bit hormonal and prone to critical rages, but there is a series of picture books that is driving me insane. It's this series of parodies based on "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly," a tale which I VERY much enjoy, and which has been beloved by both my kids. Primo, in fact, went through a phase where he wrote his own series of parodies of the rhyme, the most glorious of which was entitled, "There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Count Dracula." I don't want to exaggerate his talent but the kid, three years old, did rhyme "dracula" with "spatula". Not a perfect rhyme but as close as you get with a thorny word like Dracula. Perhaps this has biased me, but I figure, if a three year-old can come up with a rhyme like that, there's just no excuse for a grown-up, much less a professional wordsmith, to publish a book that rhymes "goblin" with "problem." Does she think we don't know the difference between an "n" and "m" sound? There are plenty of viable options for "goblin" - no need to cut corners! For crying out loud, I'm assuming the book wasn't written in a lightening round on some game-show and she had more than a minute to ponder the possibilities.

I told you I was hormonal and unforgiving at present. I told you I was going a bit berserk.

The book is just one in a long series of seasonal books by the same author and illustrator, including "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves;" " . . . A Bell;" " . . . a Shell;" " . . .a Chick;" and " . . . a Clover." I think you get the idea. I'm surprised there's not one where she swallows a heart or one where some stars and stripes or one where she swallows the various body parts of ye old presidents. And the omission of a dreidel one is pretty glaring. I"m just saying.

Ok, ok, you say, we get it, its trash - what do you expect? And you're right. I have long since stopped giving these books a chance because I know they won't redeem themselves.

And by the way, its not just the awful rhyming that gets me but the formulaic way the old lady swallows all the ingredients to make some seasonal-related thing and then at the end, barfs it out entire. I get that the kids are supposed to be putting together the clues and this must be good on some cognitive-skill-building level (well, she's got some snow, and a scarf and a top hat and a carrot --- hmmmmn, could it be . . . . a SNOWMAN?) but whatever benefit comes of this exercise must be cancelled out by the kids learning that "m" and "n" make the same sound. In any event, in the original rhyme so great is that at the end of it, the woman DOES actually die. I mean, she ate a horse, what do you expect? She doesn't put together, in her stomach, some amazing hybrid animal creature with the fly and the spider and the cat and the cow and spit it out because the song is not some linear narrative that's supposed to make sense.

I'm insupportably pretentious. I know. Forgive me. I let my kids eat refined sugar and watch Disney movies and shop at Target. Literature is the Achilles Heel of my down-to-earth-ness.

So, I don't seek these books out anymore because they make me into the Incredible Critical Hulk but I was dropping Sec off at Pre K and she picked it out and I try not to pass along my biases so I read the book to her. It was a bad idea because the shoddy craftsmanship of words was making me so infuriated I could not stop from interrupting my own reading and commenting on it.

"God, that's a lousy rhyme."

"Oh come on, are you kidding me? It doesn't even make SENSE!"

"Just because kids are reading this doesn't mean it can be garbage!"

And finally, "Sec, we could write a better version of this book. Wanna try?"

She did not. She wanted to draw a picture of a cat on a trapeze. Which we did together.

Hey, for the sake of reversing some of the massive negativity I have just expressed, let me offer that there are a few GREAT parodies of "There Was an Old Lady" and top among them is "There Was an Old Monster" by Rebecca and Adrian Emberely (related to the great Ed Emberely). Its fun, has solid rhymes and really colorful, exciting illustrations and even comes with a link to a site where you can hear the accompanying song, written by another Emberely family member. Now that's what I call an homage.

Do I look like Steven Spielberg to you?

I'm pretty sure this makes me a lousy mom but as soon as I see a glint of creative zeal in my children's eyes, a stroke of inspiration, as soon as one of them exclaims, "Oh! I've got a GREAT IDEA!" - well, I get instantly annoyed.

Theoretically, my children's inspiration is wonderful, phenomenal, even inspiring to me. But in practice, it involves a crapload of work on my part. I have learned this the hard way.

Whenever Primo gets a big idea, it means my assistance is immediately required. His inspiration is such an overpowering force it consumes him and erases every modicum of patience or reason he might possess (in slim quantities to begin with). He dreams impossible dreams. And who does it fall to, ultimately, to make those dreams come true? Who do you think?

The kids are taking a movie-making class now, and, as I feared, it has kindled the flame of their imaginations. When I picked them up yesterday from class, Primo immediately informed me he was "inspired" to make a stop animation short.

His movie-making inspirations are the ones I dread the most because they are the most time-consuming and because they involve my using technology that I am not even sure how to operate. I'll help him construct a Lego Eiffel Tower any day over making a movie.

So, at 5:30pm, the kid wants to make a movie. There's homework to be done, dinner to be had, bath and books and all that jazz and I know from the last time we made a movie that it is an operation which can easily take an entire afternoon -- I'm talking two to four hours -- not a project to be undertaken at bedtime.

These are the ill-timed strokes of inspiration I live in fear of. Because when I tell the kid, "Well, honey, there's really not enough time to make a movie before bed," he goes ballistic. Don't I understand? He is in the throes of a cosmic creative force which can not be denied, postponed or abbreviated in any way. It is a burning desire to CREATE which has set his heart aflame with passion. He cares not for BEDTIME. He cares not for teeth brushing. This is a masterpiece he is holding in his mind and he can't hold it too long or it- tender creature - will expire. Do I want his BRILLIANT MASTERPIECE to DIE an ignominious death, having never seen the light of day? DO I?

Plus, it will only take five minutes, he assures me.

And I fall for it. Because I'm a softie and because, regrettably, I treasure his big plans and divine inspiration, maybe even more than he does. I have saved approximately four million drawings of Plants vs Zombies characters he's penned, for crying out loud. Of COURSE I will help him realize his impossible dream.

Which is how I find myself past bedtime, in a fury, interviewing a Ninjago mini figure, ignoring my daughter's yells for assistance with her own creation in the bathroom.




To which I finally reply, "We are FILMING in here honey! Primo, just cut! Scrap that take! We'll have to go again, after I wipe your sister's butt."

This is not sane behavior. This is where inspiration leads you. This is why I try to avoid getting my kids inspired in any way possible. Unless its getting inspired to take a freaking nap. Which is stroke of genius my kids never have.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Is nagging the marriage killer?

Not if my parents are any indication. They've been married thirty six years and not a day has passed without my mother nagging like she's making a commission every time she employs the phrase, "How many times do I have to tell you?"

I'm not recommending it as a course of action, only offering my own research to reflect upon as you read the Wall Street Journal's article on how nagging destroys marriages.

Babble's Stroller Derby blogger was up in arms about the piece, considering it a piece of shoddily-researched anti-woman drivel. I wouldn't go that far though I agree its not the most insightful piece of investigative journalism I've ever read, or even particularly useful. Of course, I'm coming at the subject after having recently interviewed a bunch of parenting experts about the perils of nagging your kids. Yep, nagging is now a big no-no in parenting, on par with (gasp) yelling, which in my neighborhood at least, is on par with smacking your kid upside the head.

My perspective on the issue is basically: what genius doesn't know that nagging is ineffective and annoying? No one - with the possible exception of my mother -- thinks that nagging is a positive activity to engage in. In other words, of course its a marriage killer and a one-way track to getting your kids to tune out. That's breaking news? It doesn't keep us from doing it anyway - and yes, by us I mean, for the most part mothers and wives, because I've never in my life met a man that nagged me. It boils down to we want to get shit done and the people we need to help do shit need a lot of freaking reminders.

So, nagging, like biting your fingernails, is bad. Try not to. And when you figure out how, drop me and the Wall Street Journal, a line.

Monday, February 6, 2012

I'm no Duggar mom

Much has been said about the Duggar mom and I'm not going to add anything new to the conversation -- let me just manage your expectations upfront. I will say this however.

I always marveled at how someone could take care of all those kids but now what I marvel at is how someone could GESTATE all of them without her uterus falling out because of sheer exhaustion. A uterus has limits. Mine has pretty much reached its, on pregnancy number three.

Because I like to pretend I'm a celebrity and keep my pregnancies a secret for as long as possible, you all were lucky enough to miss the blow-by-blow of my miserable, epic, nonstop morning sickness. No need to rehash it all now months later. I'll just sum up those four to five glorious months by sharing these two facts:

Fact 1. I threw up in my hand on several occasions.
Fact 2. During that time, when my four year-old would play with her dolls, I'd over hear them all throwing up.
"BLEGGGGGH," goes Snow White Barbie.
"Mommy! Mommy! Do you need mouthwash?" says Rapunzel Barbie.
"Hold on, honey, I'm not ready -- BLEEEEEEGGGGH," replies Snow WHite, mid-yak.

It was a vomitpalooza chez nous.

Now that I'm in my eighth month, I'm pretty much done with the vomiting.

Now, I just feel like a brittle old bag of bones. With a very large baby in the middle.

After three pregnancies, my insides are so stretched out and saggy that I feel like the baby's arm is about to fall out from between my legs at any moment. Like I might be dropping the kids off at school and a tiny baby fist will drop out and I'll have to excuse myself to shove it back it until the appointed time.

Forget taking a decent breath. That shit ended around month five. I pant so heavily just by walking across the room that it UNSETTLES people. It makes my companions uncomfortable because they think I'm just going to keel over from having a heart attack. I gasp for breath even when I'm doing NOTHING, when I'm lying down, fully at rest.

Its so distracting David can't even watch TV in peace.

"Its like I'm sitting next to a perv," he said, "All the heavy breathing."

Add to that the shooting pain in my spine and the fact that my darling, beloved baby kicks me hard in what I can only describe as my lady parts -- I know its impossible for her to get that low, but trust me, somehow, she manages it -- and I am pretty much a total cripple now. If I had a wheelchair, I'd use it.

How the HELL did the Duggar woman take all this? Is she some sort of Amazon? Or a masochist? Or does she have that weird medical condition where you don't feel pain? And annoyance?

In situations like this, all I can say is: more power to her. And, frankly, a little more power to me, please, so I can make it through the next six weeks.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Mysterious Puddles of Vomit, the exciting conclusion

And so dear readers, to pick up where I left off on Monday . . .

I hosted the world's most exhausting, strife-filled, emotionally-turbulent playdate known to man, in the (dumb) hopes of cheering up my dejected daughter who is the world's most glum teenager-like preschooler ever. After two and a half hours of misery, our guest Johnny's mom came to pick him up, bringing along his big bro, who is Primo's age.

I opened the door and the mom and son walked in and took off thier coats. And it was at that PRECISE moment that Seconda came running over and announced:

"MOMMY! Emergency! There is a big pile of THROW-UP under the bed!"

"What? Did someone throw up?" I asked, concerned. No, thats not true. I wasn't actually concerned, I was actually just mortified, but I acted concerned to mask my humilation.

"No, noone threw up but there is throw-up under the bed. Its old. And stinky. YUCK!"

I stood, stunned, staring at her. Was she TRYING to force me into a nervous breakdown? Could she not have discovered the puddle of dried vomit say, five minutes ago, or anytime within the last TWO AND A HALF hours I'd been hosting the kid BEFORE his mother came over? Was that not a possibility? Was I now going to have to deal with a dried pile of vomit that I somehow (how? am I that big a slob?) neglected to notice until now? The mom and her son were still taking off thier shoes for crying out loud. They'd JUST arrived.

I decided to ignore her and just pushed her back in the direction of the bedroom: "Ok, ok, go play!"

"But I can't! It smells awful because of the VOMIT!"

Well, there was no doubt now that the mom had heard the news of the vomit so I was obliged to check it out. Right then and there.

"Fine," I hissed to Sec, "I'm coming."

She led me into her room, and yes, now that she mentioned it, there was an awful smell in there, the distinct smell of sour vomit, no doubt about it. Then she pointed to a spot under the bed and I got down on my hands and knees - remember, please, that I'm 8 months pregnant -- and tried to see what was causing it, but it was dark under there, and I couldn't shimmy any closer on account of my IN-UTERO BABY. I needed a flashlight. The flashlight, of course. was not in its charger, since the kids had been playing with it. Johnny's mom was still waiting in the foyer, wondering, I suppose, how in the hell she'd ever let me take charge of her son for the afternoon.
I didn't have time to search for the flashlight to find the vomit which I probably couldn't even reach anyway, since it was under the bunk bed. Oh, and by the way - WHO THE HELL THROWS UP UNDER A BED?

In what kind of an insane household does a person not only hang out under a bunk bed but hang out enough that they find an occasion to vomit there? The whole thing was so insane, I just couldn't cope.

"Fuck it!" I decided, "The vomit's gonna have to wait!"

I strode back into my foyer and led the woman inside, offering her something to drink. I would have enjoyed a shot of whisky personally but as I said, I'm in the family way and that's not really an option for me. Her big boy son ran into the bedroom to play with Primo and -- from the sounds of it -- to rubber neck at the dried vomit.

"Mommy, aren't you going to clean this up?" Primo asked.

I shot him a look which said, "Ixnay the omitvay alktay," and tried to keep the mom from entering the bedroom where the sour stench would incontrovertibly prove how unfit I was. Really, I just wanted the nightmare playdate to be over but the mom and I were in the thick of a contest of politeness which was really working against that agenda.

"Kids, we have to go," she announced, "This poor woman is very tired. Johnny's been here a long time today."

"Oh I'm fine," i replied, "He was a delight! If your older son wants to play for a bit, its totally fine by me."

Lie. Total lie.

"Oh, maybe for a minute," she replied, "But you're so pregnant and you need to rest!"

"Oh, its not so bad!" I lied some more, "I'm feeling better now that I stopped vomiting daily."

Shit. SHIT. I had to bring up the vomit again? What was with my family and vomit?

As if on cue, Sec ran in again: "Mommy, WHO threw up under the bed? Who, Mommy? And WHY?"

"I don't know what she's talking about, " I told Johnny's mom, and then turning to Sec, "You'd better go play because your friend has to leave soon."

Then I added, to clarify that my only concern was for their well-being, "Because its dark and cold and they have a long walk home."

"Yes, yes, we'll get out of your hair," she replied.

"Whenever you're ready, " I smiled.


At which point, I jumped up, really on the verge of nervous collapse, strode into his room and pulled him to the side:

"Not another word about this vomit until these people leave!" I whispered, "Not another word! Got it?"

Thankfully, the mom was already putting her shoes back on and corralling the kids which wasn't too hard since our house stunk to high heaven and they couldn't really wait to exit it. We bid them a fond farewell and then I rushed over to the kids room, unearthed the flashlight from a pile of bedclothes in the bottom bunk and beheld what was underneath the bed.

It was not vomit. Yes, it smelled like it but a close look revealed it was not.

It was milk, milk that had spilled out of one of the countless cups my daughter guzzles at bedtime. Its no surprise the milk spilled considering what Olympian feats my daughter undertakes at nighttime. Its only surprising we haven't had an undetected milk spill sooner.

I really had to fight the urge to run into the hallway, after Johnny's mom, to catch her and yell, "IT WASN'T VOMIT! IT WAS MILK!" in an effort to clear my name. But I have enough sense to know that would not make me seem LESS insane. There was no way to seem less insane now but to be quiet.

I turned on the TV and let the kids watch til David came home. It was one of those days. Gives a new meaning to crying over spilled milk.