Thursday, September 30, 2010

File under: "Great Ideas"

In the back of my mind I spend a lot of time trying to figure out to how avoid any post-partum blues come this February. After Sadie, I had some dark moments where I was swimming in despair unable to get over the disappointment and trauma of having a C-section, as well as the lack of sleep and the loss of control over every single goddamned thing in my life. And that was in sunny and beautiful August. I am trying to picture myself with a second C-section scar lounging around looking for my Narco come February, which is the dead-ass of winter in Chicago, when the sun shines for about 13 minutes a week. How is it possible that I will not have any dark thoughts or despair. As anyone who has endured the enormous post-partum hormonal shifts knows, the darkness has nothing to do with how much I love and adore and want my children. The despair is like a shadow that runs tandem to all the love and joy and exploration of the new relationships forming in my family.

But, man, February. Who the hell isn't depressed in February? Sure, I love Groundhog day as much as any full-blooded American lady, but February is sort of icy and dismal. I am having trouble picturing me putting my two kids in Gortex snowsuits, strapping them into some double stroller contraption and strolling through the gray and frozen streets. Is that type of thing even approved by the Surgeon General? And, exercise really helps me smooth out some of the edgier aspects of my personality so being laid up for a minimum of 6 weeks after major abdominal surgery really gets in the way of a good cardio session.

So, I am looking for physically less demanding ways to keep the mood aloft during the first few months of Meatball's life. The one thing I believe absolutely about my own parenting is that my children deserve a happy mother and it's not their job to make me happy.

So here's my latest survival plan for February 2011:

1. Get lots of sleep. How hard will it be with an 18 month old and a newborn?

2. Eat right. There's so many fresh fruits and vegetables around in the upper Mid-West during February. Summer squash and watermelon salad? No problem.

3. Juicy couture. Yes. I have been making fun of Juicy velour sweatsuits since the first time I laid eyes on them many years ago. I have yet to take a flight without seeing at least 4 women decked out in Juicy sweatsuits ready for some serious lounging on that very taxing 2-hour flight to Dallas. Maybe I should stop scorning and invest in a nice, soft, butt-enhancing sweat suit in a nice bright color. I can be the velour Sue Sylvester during my convalescence.

All kidding aside, I did stumble upon a great idea for bumping up my endorphins during the precarious post-partum weeks. Lady Gaga. She's going to be in concert on February 28, 2011 in Chicago. That's about 3-4 weeks after Meatball goes live. I have seized on this idea as a great way to (1) get out of the house, (2) enjoy a moment of popular culture, (3) something to look forward to that will remind me of the well-rounded woman that I am, and (4) put me into the stream of younger culture, balancing out weeks of sleep-deprivation, breast pumps and my Juicy couture.

I can't decide if this is a brilliant idea born of my hearty human spirit or a disasterous idea for someone who is post-partum to go to the United Center for a spectacle of this magnitude. I think I better sleep on it before I pony up the money for a concert ticket. And, excuse me, when did concert tickets go up to 5,000.00 per seat? Good lord, how do teenagers afford to go to concerts? You have to selll an egg or an ovary to afford them these days. I guess that's because the last big show I went to was Sting in 1999.

Post-partum depression or no, I gotta get out more.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pregnancy Glow

Well, we are definitely in the back half of this pregnancy and I am still waiting for that "I feel so beautiful" aura to hit me. I have tried everything to tap into my right as a pregnant woman to feel flush and radiant and exude an inexplicable beauty. That is, I have tried tight clothes, and loose clothes, new shoes (Tory Burch, thank you very much) and new accessories, new maternity clothes, a new hair cut, new moisturizer, and new underwear. And, still, nada. Zip. Could I at least have a few months (or weeks!) of my life where I don't have to do any spiritual work (other than keep on growing a healthy baby boy in my sacred core) but I still get to sit around and glow and look like someone airbrushed my face?

I suspect the answer is no.

Ok, fine, so I won't look like Catherine Zeta-Jones during this pregnancy, or really any other time in my life. Though I tried to get a haircut like her character Velma from Chicago and I really just looked like a Chuckie doll. I am mostly ok with that. This pregnancy I have tried some different things, such as not sitting on my ass for 30 weeks eating ice cream sandwhiches and macaroni and cheese. I have been taking lots of walks around the neighborhood with Sadie and enjoying the most spectacular fall in memory. These walks have been so valuable for my mental and emotional health. Oh, and I found an iPhone App. that let's me record the time and mileage for each walk. This pregnancy I got up off the couch at week 17.5; in my former pregnancy, it was closer to week 30 or 32 before I had the courage and fortitude to walk more than 3 blocks. I still marvel at these women who can run during pregnancy. I would have to be chased by rabid, snaggle-toothed IT personnel to really break into a run. Even then, I think I would make it about 3 blocks.

So, glow I may not, but I will have moved my body and eaten pretty decently by the time the Meatball takes his first breath. The somewhat disconcerting topic of "baby weight" came into focus last night when I got the notice for my 20-year high school reunion. I thought it would be in September 2011, which will be about 7 months after Meatball. I could have a goddamned glow by then. But, to my chagrin, the date was announced as the first weekend in June (2011). Hello? Did the alumni chapter forget to consult my family planning chart? Four months? After Sadie, I was still not myself at 4 months.

*Sadie and Meatball if you are reading this please know that your appearance is not the most important thing in life. You are lucky that you have been taught that what is most important about people is who they are, how they act, and the relationships they can build. People will love you for who you are and not what you look like, including your hair, your weight, your complexion, your clothes. You are loveable because of your insides.

Now, for the rest of us who didn't grow up with the same enlightened and loving parents that my children did, you can see why one might panic about a high school reunion taking place 4 months after giving birth (at the tender, and weight-retaining age of 37), right? I know it's more important to show up and be present for the memories from high school and celebrate who we have all become in these intervening 20 years. It's just that I harbor a little fantasy that I could do it wearing a very ferosh sundress enjoying the gasps of complete disbelief from old high school chums (and an ex-beau or two) that I had a baby just four short months ago.

So, now we understand why, to the extent any glow-- pregnancy-related or otherwise-- comes from my spiritual fitness, mine has yet to take spark.

Must work on shallowness.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Here's why I love Dancing With the Stars these days. It helps me clarity and add to my list of people my children are not allowed to date, including

David Hasselhoff
Bristol Palin
Anyone from the cast of The Jersey Shore


It's practically a full-time job getting used to the idea of having a baby boy growing inside of me. Too bad I already have a full-time job that peskily demands much of my time, to the tune of 40-hours per week.

Yesterday, I was standing in line to order lunch and ran into a friend who has 4 children, 3 of whom are currently teenagers. I asked Robert how it feels to have three teenagers living at home. He rolled his eyes and just laughed at me. I'll only have 2 at a time, so I can imagine that he has little sympathy for me, considering the Meatball is only a 21-week-old fetus. As I visualize my future, 16 years down the road, I am clear about one thing: We will be having hygeine discussions early and often, and I plan arrange it so Sadie and Meatball each have their own bathroom. Privacy is really the only thing I am clear about teenagers needing and wanting. When I was a teenager I shared a bathroom with my dad and my brother (who was 14 months my senior), and well, we all know how much therapy I have needed. If we divide the bathrooms, I think we gotta go along gender lines during those tumultuous teenaged years.

But, I am getting way ahead of myself.

I also haven't checked in because I went temporarily INSANE looking for the perfect baby boy bedding. I had to call a friend to intervene as the HOURS ticked away during which my job was expecting work product and briefs and motions. I was so gripped by my search that I was sweating and starting to hallucinate. Then, someone at work gave me what I can only consider chocolate crack in the form of a new website I had never heard of:

Good lord, the linens and price on that site. I will say that the bedding is gorgeous, lush, creative, and totally dazzling. I will also report that my very favorite bedding, a circus motif, cost approximately $744.00. One of my friends asked me if it came with a crib. I said, "crib? does it come with a baby?" That's a lot of money for a dust ruffle, a sheet and a bumper. The only small snag in my plan is that Jeff said I could have whatever bedding I wanted as long as we didn't buy a bumper. The newest thinking on SIDS prevention is that bumpers are NO NO. We have one for Sadie that has been smushed in the corner of her closet since she started sleeping in the crib. At 2 months old. I know I have to let this go. I should probably block that website from my computer. This is a website for the Queen or for Jennifer Lopez or Elizabeth Taylor and her offspring. We could get the sock monkey motif bedding for only $462.00, but I still think that's going to be hard to justify to my bookkeeper, I mean, husband.
My point is that it takes hours to crawl through the different websites convincing myself that this or that bedding is a critical piece of the whole mosaic of family life that will produce a loving, well-adjusted, self-actualized boy, who will become a fullfilled man, capable of emotional, professional and spiritual accomplishments. But, not if I pick the wrong bedding. It will all crumble and my kids will head straight to destitution and heartache and world weariness.
Being this neurotic takes time; lots and lots of time.
I told Jeff the other night that he was officially in charge of decorating the nursery. I can't do it and stay employed and off of psychotropic mediations. I can't wait to see what he comes up with.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

It's A .....


Oh boy! The gender party was amazing last night. I think I had a little crash today after all the excitement. All day yesterday I tried to just keep my mind busy on whatever the task at hand was, but my mind kept creeping back to the BIG NEWS we were gonna get. People starting arriving at 5:00 p.m., and Jeff made a delicious dinner of turkey meatballs and pasta. Right at 6:00 p.m. we fired up the video camera, called up Jeff's mom on SKYPE so she could hear the news and then we opened the envelope from the doctor.

It was totally wild. I think I blacked out right when we found out. Last thing I remember is staring at my friends' faces who were all sitting on our couch waiting to hear the news. I could see Debbie and Mary and Krista and Trish and then my head exploded when I saw the note that said BOY.

Baby Boy Ellis. We have officially changed his name from Cherry Blossom (because life is hard enough) to Meatball. Our little meatball. Sadie's little meatball brother. The greatest part of the evening besides learning about our baby's gender was that one of my dear friends brought a bag full of boy's clothes for us! They had it waiting in the car just in case we found out it was a boy. Those little blue onsies and the tiny blue hats! I was DYYYYYYYYYYYYING. My head is sort of spinning with thoughts of paint colors and themes and how he is NEVER going to spend his childhood buried in an Xbox or any other video game for that matter.

Meatball. Damn, I love him already. Some of my favorite people are boys. I haven't decided what aspect of Sadie and Meatball's relationship to obsess about right now. I am trying to stick to paint colors and amassing as many cute onsies as I can. Many of my friends have little boys and there are some cute outfits I have been hoping to get my hands on.

As a preliminary matter, we were thinking his room would be a Venice theme, since Sadie's is Paris. It's growing on me. Canals. Blown glass. Ambiance. I like it. We'll have to see how this unfolds. I can't believe how blessed I am to be the mom of a beautiful baby girl and a Meatball-to-be.

Friday, September 17, 2010

La Familia Extended

No pressure, Cherry, but the kids in our family are really really cute. And, clearly we need to get you some Hannah Anderssen pj's STAT. This picture was taken in the brief millisecond when Sadie and her two cousins, Patrick and Thomas, were all still on the couch. Luckily, Jeff was able to snap this before all hell broke loose as Patrick swung a broom around the living room, Thomas fell under the Leap Frog music table and Sadie picked up leftover caramel popcorn from the floor.

Little Cherry, we're saving a drool-stained spot on the couch just for you!

Hugging It Out

Now that we have hit the halfway mark of this, our second pregnancy, we are aware of our responsibility to prepare Sadie for having a little sibling. We've been working on "gentle, gentle" as in "don't rip Mommy's earring out of her ear again this morning," or "don't bite little Oscar's hand off; he's only five months old and may need it a while longer." When Sadie's cousins were in town, we worked on some more tactile contact as expressions of love and affection. Her younger cousin, Thomas, (pictured above) was the youngest of the crew and had to endure lots of practice hugs from Sadie. Sadie likes to lean in for a little cheek-to-cheek smooch.

Sharing. Well, that's a whole other story. Sadie just kind of isn't into sharing. At all. Unless by sharing, we mean she gets to have whatever she wants. The other night we met our neighbor who has a 15-month-old daughter named Hannah. Hannah and her mother were outside playing ball and Sadie wanted the ball. Hannah, who has some really superior speech skills, reminded Sadie that she had to share, but Sadie was having NONE of it. She wanted the ball and she seemed to want Hannah to get out of her way and stop asking Sadie to throw her the ball.

We'll work on that.

But hugs, we got hugs down.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hearts A'Fire

The 20-week ultrasound has come and gone. I can't believe it was yesterday. It was a thrill to see Cherry's heart and spine and feet. Oh the feet! They are so cute. The baby was wiggling and wiggling all during the ultrasound so it took a while. We even had to see 2 different technicians, because the first one was having trouble getting the picture of the heart she wanted. It was a little nervewracking, because I was wondering if there was something troubling she saw, but mostly it was surreal and serene to sit there in the dark watching the four chambers of the heart pump, pump, pump.

We told the office our gender party plans and created a little buzz of excitement. It's a busy office in downtown Chicago, so I figured they had seen it all; heard it all. I think we were the first gender party for them, though. I made a little envelope and a worksheet for the doctor to check the box for boy or girl. The u/s tech provided a picture of the private parts to stick in the envelope. Jeff dropped me off at work after the appointment and I have no idea where that envelope is now.

I can't wait until our party on Saturday! We are going to have our guests sign in on the gigantic white envelope that holds the gender information. The sign in is also a prediction: If you think it's a boy, you have to sign in blue pen on the right side; if you think it's a girl, you have to sign in on the left side with a pink pen. Jeff is going to set up the tripod to capture our reaction. He wants us to open the envelope and read it to everyone. I was sort of picturing someone reading it to us, but Jeff makes a good point: He wants us to know first, even if it's literally about .0001 seconds before the party goers.

This morning when Sadie and were eating breakfast together, and with Sadie, let's use the very loose meaning of eating, I was picturing her with a sister, and then with a brother. I have visions of us all snuggling on the couch under a blanket, but Sadie really has only been up for that type of sedentary activity when she had a fever of 102, so I should probably just be open minded and undertand the difference between fantasy and reality.

I have visions of the baby's nursery. Large swaths of color and not too much clutter. For some reason I am visualizing deep purple and sunflower yellow. I have no idea where that is coming from, but it seems fresh and bold. Not sure how that translates to a baby, but there are worse things than a fresh or bold baby.

People have asked me if I looked at the screen when the baby's images were there. Honestly, we were there for so long and I am so committed to finding out the gender on Saturday, that I wasn't looking for anatomical cues about gender. I was really more interested in fingers and umbilical cords and heartbeats. At one point, pretty early into the session, the tech said, "he's squirming away from me." I am tempted to believe that means she saw the boy bits and slipped out with the gender pronoun. But, she told Jeff, a few minutes later when I went to empty my aching bladder, that she didn't know the gender yet. She looks at baby parts all day long so she probably saw a few boys yesterday, but it doesn't mean she saw my baby as a boy.

In any case, we will find out soon enough.

I can't wait to get my decorate on!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Attention to Detail

One of my biggest challenges in my profession is that sometimes I lack the requisite attention to detail. It's true. No one wants a lawyer to miss details, but sometimes I do.

And, concomitantly, sometimes I DON'T!

Like today. I am wearing the same outfit for this ultrasound as I wore when we had our big ultrasound with Sadie. The only difference is that Sadie's ultrasound was on February 19, when I was 19 weeks and 2 days pregnant and it was icy and cold outside. Today, is September 15, and I am wearing my warm weather undergarments and little shrug sweater instead of a blazer. Right after Sadie's ultrasound, I got a plane for a business to trip Omaha, Nebraska. I know, all I ever do is brag about my exciting life. Today, I will probably find a snack and come back to my office to finish a brief that sure isn't writing itself. I wish it would.

So, when properly applied, I can attend to the details with the best of them. If only I could put that on my resume.


The ultra-sound is in 2.5 hours. I am very excited and very nervous. I am craving Cinnabon, which, incidentally, I have never ever eaten. I just finished a biography of Alice Waters and her ground-breaking restaurant, Chez Panisse, and I thought I would never have the conscience to crave something as bad for my body and the earth and with such a giant carbon footprint, but here I am wondering if there is a Cinnabon anywhere within 4 blocks of my office.

I can't wait to see my little wublet on the screen. I hope I don't accidentally see the private parts. I doubt I will. Last time they showed us the definitive proof that Sadie was a girl, I thought I was looking at her cerebellum. I should stick to my day job and not switch careers to ultra-sound tech this afternoon.

20 weeks.

Half way (ish) through.

Baby's moving and grooving. S/he loves the red hot jawbreakers I eat when I need my cinnamon burst. S/he's gonna love cinnabon.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Kicking it in my womb

I felt Cherry today from the outside. Little jabs just below my belly button. At first I thought I ate too many noodles for lunch, but tonight I felt the unmistakable jab of my sweet Cherry.

Tomorrow is our 20-week ultra-sound where we get all the important vital information about Cherry's physical body. We are still planning to wait on the gender information until our party on Saturday, but it will be so fun to see his or her little profile and the limbs and the heart chambers. I can't wait.

I will also report that "low rise" maternity pants that have no belly panel are a huge SCAM. The SEC should get right the EF on that. I have bought 2 pairs of these so-called low-rise pants and I was so excited to have cute pants that don't have the huge belly panel. Low-rise is a bit of a euphemism for you-will-lose-these-pants-on-the-train-if-you-don't-hold-them-up. And, that's pretty much what happened to me today on the way to work. Engrossed in a book, secretly feeling so fly and so stylish with my "low rise" black pants, I was almost to my stop at Washington when I realized that over half of my ass crack was showing, thanks to the scientific wonders of maternity clothes. All day long: in my boss' office, on the way to the ladies room, on the way to the printer. I could not go more than 4 steps without having to hitch up my pants by grabbing the belt loop and giving a swift hike. So professional. So attractive.

Looks like some of my famous last words were: "THIS pregnancy I am going to be very stylish." I am still haunted by a co-worker telling me she had guessed I was pregnant with Sadie because I started dressing very "frumpy." That one left a mark.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Plans are a'brewing for Cherry Baby.

Most radically (for me), I am researching cloth diapers and all of their accoutrements for this second round of babyhood. I wish I could say it was my commitment to the environment or to whatever other intrinsic value comes from having cloth on your bare ass at birth instead of plastic, but really, I am just sick of how the diaper genie smells. I can't take it. I am still sensitive to smells, even though I am about 19 weeks pregnant. Good lord, when that thing is open I start hallucinating about the third coming of Christ. It's too tragic.

Speaking of smells, this second baby is going to have many advantages. For example, we have weathered our first bout of stomach ick, complete with vomiting and other submissions. On Monday night, I heard Sadie coughing, but it didn't sound too serious so I went back to sleep. That was my first mistake. The second was taking a shower on Tuesday morning BEFORE checking on Sadie whom Jeff found in what can only be described as a puddle of her own vomit. Nice. Poor thing, woke up in a great mood and was reaching out for me, who was freshly showered and trying so hard not to show her that I was about to puke for the smell of her hair. I did what any efficient mother would do: I just got back in the shower with her in my arms and we worked through the chunky tangles in her hair. All day long, though, I thought I would be sick from the memory of the smell.

I always wondered, before I had kids, whether I could take all the gross parts. Would I be able to embrace my puke-covered children and give them the love they need BEFORE hosing them off? Turns out I can and the only price to pay is that I could barely eat all day.

But, I will know when I hear THAT kind of cough again not to just assume all is well. I will come in with the hose ready go and the lavendar candles ready to strike up once the mess dies down.

Time to research cloth diapers so I can become a believer thjen I can spread the Good Word to all the other people who will be changing Cherry's diapers.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Let's Review

Friday: I bought a new bra.

Saturday: I wore the new bra under my black dress.

Tuesday: New bra no longer fits. I had to replace it as my ladies were spilling out all over the place.

Welcome to week 18!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Gender Party

Jeff and I have come up with the best idea for celebrating the Cherry Blossom. I am so excited I could pee in my pants, though that pretty much happens all the time anyway. (Should have done those kegals my yoga teacher warned me about.)

Here's the plan: On September 15, we have our big 20-week ultra-sound, which will give us all sorts of great views of Cherry. We are going to have the technician write down the gender and put it into a sealed envelope. We are telling the doctor's office NOT to tell us the gender of the baby.

Then, on Saturday, September 18, we are going to have a party with our friends, wherein we will have someone read the gender in the sealed envelope. This way, we can get this fantastic news while in celebration with our friends. Plus, I am very excited for Sadie to be with us when we get this news. It seems such a shame to be sitting in a sterile, dark room, belly exposed when hearing this life-altering happy news.

Jeff and I go back and forth about what to do with the envelope once we leave the doctor's office. It's a bit of a tradition in our house for Jeff to hide stuff from me, but that's usually food and it's usually after I have demonstrated a striking ability to make myself sick with, say, marshmallows or dark chocolate-covered cherries. Anyway, I think I am committed to hearing this news with friends and Sadie while sitting in my house on Saturday. I don't imagine I will sneak around and try to discern the contents of the envelope before then. Who knows? I have never done anything like this. Now, if Jeff covered the envelope in dark chocolate and adds some fruity bits, maybe I will go hunting, but I think I can be trusted here.