Monthly Archives: November 2010

Team Pink? Team Blue? Not Us, We’re Team Green

I can tell you that the baby in my belly weighs about 4 pounds, has an average heart rate of 139 and gets the hiccups every night around 11 o’clock. But I can’t tell you if Bean is a boy or a girl. We’ve decided not to find out the gender and it’s been interesting to watch people’s reactions to us being not on Team Pink or Team Blue, but proud members of Team Green.

I’m such a planner and like to have my Is dotted and Ts crossed, so it surprises many that this Type A doesn’t want to know the gender. It’s because my love of control is outweighed only by my love of surprises. I know, I know. I’m an oxymoron, deal with it. But I do love happy surprises, and I can’t think of a bigger surprise than the gender of your baby. (Well, other than the surprising fact that you’re having a baby, but that’s another story.)

We already know so much. We’ve been in the Information Age for years, I’m in an industry founded on informing the masses, we frequent blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and the usual social-networking suspects, we’re all about knowing more, more, more, more. So why not have the gender as a surprise? After Bean is born, everyone will know, but for these months, a little mystery is fun. And as far as planning, there’s plenty of cute hues of greens and yellows and other gender-neutral colors to get us through.

When people find out that we don’t know Bean’s gender, their reactions vary. Most think it’s fun, though many say they couldn’t stand not knowing. A few of friends have tried to bribe me to find out and at least one pool was started to collect money on whether I was having a boy or a girl.

Then they start trotting out the old wives tales, which are always entertaining. If you’re carrying high it’s a boy, carrying low, it’s a girl. Bad acne? Girl. Great skin? Boy.

Some couples have shared their stories about how they were split, and somehow managed to have one parent know the gender and keep it secret from the other parent. That’d never fly in our house. There have also been one or two interestingly negative reactions, where it genuinely frustrates people, but I have to dismiss them, it’s our child, our choice, the world will know soon enough.

Though for a friend of mine, her hand was forced. She wanted so passionately to be on Team Green and at an early second trimester ultrasound, she told the technician they wanted to be surprised at the birth. After the ultrasound, the tech said: “Well, it’s a little early to tell, but if you want my opinion, I think it’s a boy.” … My friend was livid. The stenographer was right though, she had a boy.

The same woman is pregnant now and tried again for Team Green and again, told that to the tech. This time at the end of the ultrasound, the tech held the thingymabob on the spot on her belly so that it showed her baby, in 4D, spread eagle. The tech kept the “viewfinder” there and stared at my friend. It apparently was quite the awkward moment, but it’s unmistakable what she’s having.

At least she’s not freaking out over it, which is good, we, like all moms, really just want a healthy baby, and the rest whether your pink, blue or green is simply having a little fun.

Learning About Death One Moment At A Time

On Nov. 9, 2010 an amazing woman died. Her name was Danyale Ellis and she was my friend. Last weekend was her funeral and I wondered, do I bring Logan or is that inappropriate?

Hubby was out of town and I really wanted to attend Danyale’s funeral. She was only 38 years old and one of those people that the rest of us strive to be. She was successful, but not in a nauseating way, because she was humble. What I liked best is that she was very understanding. She understood my hectic life and never made me feel bad for not doing something, she simply cherished what I could. That’s rare.

We were both in the same sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. and before you judge, it’s not the kind of sorority where cheerleading pixies prance around in an oversized white house. It’s a predominantly black sorority dedicated to public service. (Though admittedly there’s former cheerleaders in our midst too…) Danyale and I met in the alumnae chapter.

It was important to me that I pay my respects, but I was failing at finding a sitter for Logan. Would it be weird to bring my boisterous boy to a funeral? What if he had a colossal meltdown in the middle of a tear-jerking eulogy? Saturday morning I decided I would regret not trying to attend the funeral more than regret an ill-timed tantrum.

On the way to the services, I started to lay out my expectations of Logan, telling him we were going to a funeral and he was to be quiet, if he wanted to talk to me it was to be in a whisper. He asked me what’s a funeral. I paused, I had been so obsessed with figuring out the logistics of getting to the funeral I didn’t even think about how it would mean talking about death with my 3 year old.

We’ve talked a little bit about how things die, but I suppose I figured the bigger talks would come after a goldfish died and we had a ceremony to flush it down the toilet like the Huxtables. So in the car, we talked about people dying, what it meant and how it can make us sad because we will miss the people who died, but that they’re OK. The main thing he wanted to know afterward was “why?”

Such a small word, such a big question. I didn’t delve into a circle-of-life diatribe a la Lion King, I simply said: “I don’t know, God decides that.” Thankfully that seemed to answer the question good enough.

We went to the funeral and he was spectacular, quietly played with his miniature cars in the pew and whispering so low I could barely hear him. The service was moving and whenever I felt the tears well up, I’d give Logan a squeeze and draw some strength from him. I was glad he was with me.

When talking to Hubby on the phone that night, Logan excitedly grabbed the phone and said: “Daddy! Guess what? Somebody DIED today!

“What?!?” Hubby asked.

“We went to Danyale’s funeral.” I said into the phone and heard his sigh of relief.

It looks like I’ll get my Huxtable moment after all.

Because You’re Worth It

I blogged a couple weeks ago about going on a babymoon and how great it is to get one in before your child is born. I was bound and determined to go on that last vacation as a family of three and it seemed like destiny was equally bound and determined not to let it happen.

Story time at Timber Ridge Lodge

First Hubby and I had trouble finding a weekend that worked for us, he was traveling and I had my own work schedule conflicts. Once we settled on a date, all of my friends decided to do something fun that weekend.

A good friend from Philly was visiting Chicago, a great gal pal was having a birthday party and my best friend who lives in suburban St. Louis was coming to town. I wanted to cancel our babymoon.

Then Logan got sick. So sick he stayed home from daycare for two days, which *never* happens. My kid’s hacking up a lung, has a fever and I really wanted to cancel our babymoon.

Finally, it became clear that I’d have to work late on the Friday that we’d planned to leave. I proclaimed our babymoon was cancelled.

But we never picked up the phone to scrap our reservations. Largely because deep down we knew that we needed a break. We needed to hit the pause button on our crazy lives so we could catch our breath and for us that’s not possible unless you get out of Dodge.

Nevertheless I kept telling myself it was a mistake not to break our babymoon.

Friday night came and I was running even later than anticipated. After racing home, rushing through dinner and finishing off the packing, I was wound so tightly that I didn’t want to go anywhere except for bed. But I stuck with it, we were having this babymoon.

After an hour’s drive to Lake Geneva, Wis., we got to the Timber Ridge Lodge and Waterpark at 10 p.m. and Logan thought it was the greatest adventure ever. He was bouncing off the walls, the couch, the bed, everything. Finally, he passed out on the bed, Hubby went to the store to fill the suite’s kitchen and I sat on the couch as I felt the stresses of the day melt away.

The next day, we had a blast at the waterpark, spent some time in the cozy downtown area and enjoyed story time in our PJs in the hotel’s lobby with about 50 other kids. I even got a few hours of peace and quiet alone in the bedroom and that was heaven.

All in all it was a tough road to get to our babymoon, but the biggest hurdle was in my mind. And that’s how it is for many of us, we have to push ourselves hard to take time to get away. Often we decide there’s just too many other things that need taking care of, so we neglect ourselves.

Honestly, that weekend the laundry didn’t get washed, the grocery shopping wasn’t done and the house wasn’t picked up. Yet we came back feeling more rested, ready for the upcoming week and even a little closer as a family.

I’m so glad we took a break to be with just each other and I blog about this since I’m hopeful you will do the same for you and yours because you’re worth it.

The Docs Say It’s Time For Modified Bed Rest

I’m eight months pregnant and so far things have been going swimmingly, though I am one of those strange women who loves all 40 weeks of the pregnancy from baby kicks to body aches. But now the landscape has changed.

Instead of poking fun at my expanding waistline, I’ve taken to cheering for every millimeter of growth. It’s because I’ve started to develop preeclampsia. That’s where, among other things, a pregnant women’s blood pressure rises to not great levels and it can be dangerous.

A Personal History. When I was pregnant with Logan, at my 34-week checkup, the doctors noticed his growth had slowed, he was still measuring at 33 weeks and my blood pressure was high. After weekly monitoring, a couple trips to the hospital, medication and bed rest, they induced me at 38 weeks. That’s full term and Logan was born a perfectly healthy, but small 5 lbs 6 oz. He’s gone on to be a normal, thriving tantrum-prone toddler.

This time around the medical staff has been watching me like a hawk. Since my blood pressure started to go up a few weeks ago, they ordered monthly ultrasounds to make sure that Bean was growing fine. I thought this was great because I got to see the little one each month, how cool is that? Bean’s actually measuring a little big (yay!) and has been passing all the tests with flying colors.

Nevertheless, because mama’s not passing all her tests, I’ve been ordered to work from home three days a week so I can lie on my left side as much as possible, increasing blood flow to the placenta.

RELAXXX! This is my least favorite part of having high blood pressure. Everyone you’ve ever met tells you to relax. I know they mean well, but the chorus of commands to “RELAX!!!” isn’t, well, relaxing. I care for my child more than any person on the planet and I want the best for Bean and I’m always trying my best, so believe me I’m trying to relax. I’ve cut back on everything and will continue to do so, but keep in mind with a 3 year old, a husband who is now working at least 70 hours a week and no family nearby, it’s no cake walk. Thank goodness I have a great cleaning lady, good neighbors and good friends. But to the chorus, I say: mile in my shoes people, mile in my shoes.

What’s Next? For now, I’ll keep working as it keeps me sane, I’m sure if things keep progressing as they did last time, I’ll have to dial back and be on more bed rest. Last time bed rest drove me bonkers as someone who’s at her happiest (and Zen) when she’s on-the-go, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. For the time being, I’ll smile at Bean’s Cha-Cha slide in my tummy, root for Bean’s growth and yes, even relax a little bit more.

Memories of A Miscarriage While Caring For My Newborn

*Guestblogger Jess is a quick-witted, stay-at-home mother-writer-friend who periodically discusses the various lenses of her life on She’sWrite. Here’s her story:

Six weeks ago, I had a beautiful baby girl named Clara. So it might seem odd to write about a previous miscarriage, but the memory of that child has come to surface now more than any time since. I often think of her as I care for my new baby.

My first child, Henry, was 18 months old when we were surprised to find I was pregnant again. Though my husband and I wanted a second child, it wasn’t planned. But after initial hesitation, we embraced the pregnancy wholeheartedly. I felt strongly, in the way many moms do, that I was carrying a girl.

My 8-week appointment went well; then I got a call that they wanted me to come back in to check the placenta again on an ultrasound. There might have been something wrong — I can’t even remember now what it was — that would have caused me to have a pregnancy in which I’d have to be extra careful. So the thought of bed rest was on my mind as I lay on the table and looked at the little jellybean on the screen, the one I had seen days earlier and whose heart had been beating away rapidly. I saw no such flutter on the screen this time. At first I was confused, maybe in denial, and then I saw the look on the technician’s face. Several days of visceral sadness followed, the kind of emotion you do not have to think about or talk yourself into. It just was. The sadness gradually receded over the next several weeks.

I sometimes feel, and felt, apologetic over my sadness about that miscarriage. I mean, it happens all the time. There must have been something wrong, it was nature’s way. And after all, it was only nine weeks. Imagine the pain of miscarrying once you feel the baby inside you.

But nine weeks.  Since my husband and I found out as early as possible, at 2 weeks, that means I had seven long weeks of imagining my child playing with her older brother; imagining the softness of her cheeks and the cooing of her little voice. She was not a bunch of cells to me. She was my child. No, I never met her, not literally. But I carried her, and many mothers will tell you that is an experience unlike any other. The bond grows fiercer the longer the pregnancy, but it is strong from the beginning.

A friend of mine had a miscarriage, too, followed by the birth of her little girl. My friend feels that the miscarried baby was who eventually became her daughter, she just wasn’t ready to come at that time. For me it is a bit different. She is sort of my ghost child, an older sister, the one who came before. She never quite became a part of the family, but she will never leave it. I feel my ghost child in Clara; she is a part of her, but not the same.

My miscarriage has given me deeper gratitude watching my beautiful baby girl sleep and even delighting in her pouty cries for milk. In some strange way I don’t understand, I feel like Clara is an honor to her, my first girl.

Mommy Guilt: Save The Guilt For Late-Night Ice Cream and Pizza

When I’m at work, I feel guilty for not spending more time with my kid. When I’m with my kid, I feel bad for not doing more for work. Either way, I feel guilty.

It’s like that for moms. We feed bad, we feel guilty, we feel responsible when things don’t work out “right.” And who can blame us? Guilt trips are given by many: from our friends, grandparents, spouses, colleagues, doctors, the list goes on and on. And it starts early, are you getting an epidural? Circumcision or no? Will you let your baby cry herself to sleep? Breast or bottle? Using Time Outs? It’s enough to make your head spin.

Why should we moms add to the list? Also, do dad’s feel the same way? I know Hubby regrets not spending more time with Logan, especially since he logs 60 to 70 hours a week, but I don’t think he mentally flogs himself like I’m prone to doing.

In my sensible mind, I know Logan’s fine at daycare and loves it and I know that at work I’m busting my ass. But in my heart, well it’s not as reasonable as my mind, and that’s where the guilt comes in.

So I try to lean on my brain power to help figure out a better balance.

  • Hire help. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. If you can afford it, get help. We have a cheap cleaning lady come to do the heavy duty cleaning. That way we’re spending our weekends doing fun stuff as a family instead of scrubbing toilets. There’s other help that’s out there, hiring someone to drive your kid to and from daycare can eliminate your daycare commute, freeing up more of your time.
  • Be creative with your work schedule. If your employer allows, see what you can do with your schedule to make it work for your family. My bosses let me come in early and leave in the late afternoon and I often take lunch at my desk, which for some is inadvisable, but it helps me plow through my To Do list. One friend of mine works an extra hour Monday through Thursday so that she can have a short work day on Friday, allowing her to spend extra time with her daughter then.
  • Change. If the guilt is too overwhelming and the flexibility is not there, look to change your situation. Easier said than done, especially in this economy, but still it’s worth a try. In the end you gotta be honest with yourself and ask, is it worth it?

Lost Keys? Acting Like a Space Cadet? Blame My Preggo Brain

Preggo brain. What *is* it actually? Why is it that women who were once razor sharp become forgetful, and appear spacy when they’re pregnant? I am one of these preggo space cadets and I wanna know.

The theories abound. For amusement, I checked Google and found it’s because of elevated hormone levels or  increased blood flow. Or my favorite: it’s all a figment of my emotional imagination.

The past couple days it’s been ridiculous. On Sunday Hubby was at Panera Bread getting some work done and Logan and I visited him for lunch. When it came time to leave I could not find my keys. We retraced my steps throughout the restaurant and parking lot, scoured my purse and no keys. I had to borrow his (which were on him) so Logan and I could get home.

Now in a normal family you just switch to using the spare set of keys right? Well if you know us at all you’ll know we’re far from normal. Hubby and I both carry two sets of keys, one to the Jeep and one to the TT. We both drive both cars each day because he takes Logan to daycare and I pick him up. Whoever has Logan has the Jeep because Logan’s carseat can’t fit in the TT.

(A normal family would sell the TT and get a family car, but I love it too much to let it go.)

Then Tuesday morning in a frantic race to leave the house on time I can’t find my keys to the TT. Sooooo I borrow Hubby’s. He’s beyond reluctant to give them to me since I’ve lost two pairs in as many days.

Also  I had warned him that he needed to gas up because there wasn’t much in the Jeep.

In a revealing train ride, I am digging in my purse and see a side pocket I’d forgotten existed… Abracadabra, tucked inside are my Jeep keys. Then deep in my purse there’s my set of TT keys.

I call Hubby to share the good news: all of the keys are accounted for. He’s happy and is even happier to inform me that the Jeep’s tank is full. I’d gassed up the night before and completely forgot.

Good times, good times.