Thursday, October 28, 2010

Phone Conversation Over Lunch

Jeff: I gotta tell you something.

Me: Ok. What?

Jeff: Zenia says she thinks she saw a <<<<<<<******>>>>>>>>>>>> (too muffled to hear).

Me: She saw a what?

Jeff: A mouse?

Me: In our house?

Jeff: Yes.

Me: Where in our house?

Jeff: In the kitchen.

Me: Is she sure? Was she drinking heavily or taking 'shrooms? Might she be hallucinating?

Jeff: I am pretty sure she saw it. She came to tell me right after she saw it.

Me: Ok. Well. We're moving.

(He thinks I am kidding. I am not. It's either me and my babies or the mouse, I don't care how freaking cute Ratatouille was.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

26 Weeks Today

Here's what I can say about being 37 years old and 26-weeks pregnant:

I am SO tired. It defies logic that I could hardly hold my eyes open after routinely getting about 9 hours of sleep at night, but here I am, and I am tired.

I looked up the stats on being 26-weeks pregnant and found out that the fatigue is because of all the weight gain. I laughed at that one. Sounds a little simplistic to me. How about the hormones? How about the creeping anxiety about having a little baby around to keep alive for the rest of my life? How about the potential C-section anxiety? It definitely is exhausting carrying myself and Meatball around, which is why when I go home from work I play with Sadie on the carpet, then I rock her to sleep in her cozy chair (and usually doze off with her) and then lay on the couch until it's time for bed. I don't even cross the street on the yellow lights anymore because it might require me to pick up the pace. Forget it. Mama surrenders to the SLOW DOWN.

I know you have been wondering what celebrities are also pregnant right now. I have been trying to keep track of the celebriety bump watch so that in the future I can remember to feel smug when my kids turn out better than, say, Celine Dion's, even though I am not a Las Vegas hot shot with a headlining show of my own. And the Divine Ms. Dion just had twin boys, who are 2 days old, and yet unnamed. Apparently, she's having trouble deciding between French and English names. Um, they are twins, how about one of each? The report I read said she gained 40lbs and didn't care about losing it before she returns to Sin City in March. I don't believe a word of any of it, but I am waiting to see what she names her boys.

Also currently pregnant:

Penelope Cruz
Mariah Carey (maybe)
Christina Applegate
Alicia Keys
Toni Collette

Oh, and Dr. Julia Ray, our pediatrician is probably pregnant, because I saw her reading labels on cereal at Trader Joe's looking impossibly DARLING like one of those women who happened to swallow a basketball. Sadie's 15-month appointment is tomorrow so I'll find out if that was her checking out the Puffins on Saturday.

I have to rest up because Meatball's crib and dresser are showing up on Friday. To prepare for this furniture onslaught, Jeff and I sold my old bed and nightstands (Pottery Barn sleigh bed) on Craig's List last weekend. (Ok, Jeff did the selling, but I contributed because I bought them in the first place.) Now, we have room to move the office furniture out of Meatball's room so we can go into full SOCK MONKEY overload. I can't wait to see it all come together. The room is a disaster right now, so we have our work cut out for us. And what, with me sleeping 9-10 hours a night, I see lots of overtime in Jeff's future.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Who CAN you date?

A quick perusal of this blog indicates that I have been more vocal about who my children cannot date, but haven't really given any guidance about who they CAN date.

Let's talk about that.

We all know you can actually date anyone you damn well please. Eventually. While under my roof, both of my children can date either boys or girls, hopefully within a 5 year age range while still under the age of 18.

Let me be explicit: this is not an episode of Glee. I DON'T CARE WHETHER YOU ARE STRAIGHT OR GAY OR BI-SEXUAL. I don't need my kids to be happy all the time, or popular or straight. I don't care if you are gay for one second. By the time you are figuring out your sexuality, Don't Ask Don't Tell will be repealed (hopefully) and "coming out" will not be such a big freaking deal. I can't wait until sexual preference is as bland a fact about someone as his or her height. I hope the next Supreme Court Justice is gay, and I hope there is absolutely no press about it, because really, WHO CARES who about the genitals of Justice's partner? I care about the Justice's mind, his or her experience, his or her politics, and his or her position on the issues that I really care about. It be nice of there were no allegations of sexual harassment lodged against the putative new Justice, as this country doesn't need that again.

On the one hand, my children's sexuality is really none of my business. On the other hand, I love them and something being none of my business has NEVER stopped me before. It's certainly not stopping me during motherhood.

Also, it's 2010 and whether they are gay or straight I only hope my children can date people who can teach them lessons (the fun kind and the hard kind) and who make them laugh (and cry) and who add to their life stories, which, at the center is THEM, though I may try to stick my head in the frame more than they will like.

This is all on my mind because today there is a nationwide movement to recognize how bullying gay teens has led to devastating consequences, including an alarming increase of teen suicides. We were supposed to wear purple today to support anti-bullying efforts and to commemorate the lives of young people who's pain over their sexual preference led them to their deaths. I already know from watching Sadie get hurt over and over again in hundreds of small ways, that I can't prevent my kids from hurting. And, after a few playdates where Sadie bit another child or stole toys from other children, it's clear I can't entirely prevent my kids from hurting others. I wish I could. I can't. All I can do is make it clear in any way I know how that I accept my kids' and their choices and I love them and I hope to create a home full of tolerance and joy and celebration of all kinds of different people. Regardless of what happens to them as they venture forth to school, or chess matches or gymnastics or knitting circles, they will have a home that is free from bullying and shame around sexuality and expressions of "difference."

So, to sum up:

My kids are still not allowed to date David Hasselhoff, but same sex dating will be cherished and respected just like opposite sex dating.

AND NO TEXTING WHILE DRIVING to anyone of any gender.

Is it just me, or is a little wacky?

I don't even know what to say about this print I found on when looking for sock monkey decorations for Meatball's room.

What does it mean?

I am pretty sure it would scare a child if he was hung in his room, right?

It makes me laugh, but I am not sure I am getting the joke.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The "M" Word

All weekend long I perseverated about a mistake I made at work. So great is my shame about this mistake that I am hesitant to even disclose what it was. I have a million justifications for why I made the mistake, but not one of them makes me feel better. (Though, I do, now and again, enjoy telling myself I am a "good person" with a "good heart" even though I make mistakes at work.)

Oh, I have worked hard to take the sting out of this mistake. It's been cardio justification.

I tell myself it was a clerical error; that there are MUCH worse mistakes for a lawyer to make; I am new to this job; my former job had a whole department to catch these kind of mistakes; I am a good person; even if I get fired for this mistake, I have been honest about my time and never sent any personal packages on the firm dime; I am still a good mom; I look both ways before I cross the street; I didn't know any better.

None of this is helping. I still stew about it. I had a glorious fall weekend with Sadie spending time with friends and taking walks. Every now and again I would have a spasm of anxiety when I would think about my mistake. Then I would wonder what the colleagues who will inevitably discover my mistake will think. Before I knew it, more than 3 minutes of reverie about this mistake had passed, which was 3 minutes less of my time with Sadie.


So how can I possibly teach my kids that making mistakes is part of life and not the end of the right to live as a free citizen? I can't imagine how I could truly impart a lesson that I have yet to internalize. Can I show them what it's like to be a lifelong reader? Sure, I am almost always reading a book. Can I show them how wonderful exercise is if done in moderation? For the most part I can model this. But kids are smart and I know that no matter what I say about mistakes, and lessons, and building character, they are still going to see me stewing about mistakes and they will probably get the idea that they should too unless I change.

Here's the mistake I made: We filed a brief (a court paper, for those lucky enough NOT to know what a brief is) in state court here in Chicago. Easy enough. The partners on the case work in NY and were looking to me as their "expert" on local procedure. (The wisdom of that choice is a subject for THEIR blogs, not mine.) As the expert, I was asked if there was a page limit on the brief we filed. I remember looking in the state court rules and even logging on to Westlaw to verify that the state court rules do not have a page limit for the brief we were filing. "Fire away."

Well, thanks to footnote 1 to the brief filed by the other side, I learned that I was wrong. Apparently, the Judge has her very own set of rules that says parties may NOT file briefs in excess of 15 pages without permission.


Really? The other side had to put that into a footnote?

In addition to hating the fact that I make mistakes, some of them public and some of them the subject of a footnote in a brief, I also hate this part of the law: the picayune, rigid formal rules. Is it the end of the world that our brief was an extra 4 pages? No. Is the rule there for a reason? Presumably. Does it make me stupid that I didn't know to the look at the Judge's local rules, considering I never practiced in state court before July 2010? Certainly not. (As a sidenote, I will say that I hate that there are so many platforms in legal proceedings for parties to shame one another, not to mention how Judges often abuse their positions of authority to shame litigants.)

Anyway, the whole point of this is to examine yet another way in which being a parent of children I really love has magnified little character "quirks" (or "defects") that are miserable enough for me to deal with, but seem like poison when I think of passing them on to my kids.

Here's how I would want my kids to think of and feel about a mistake they made:

  • available to learn the lessons from the mistake;
  • feel grateful for the chance to learn from a mistake;
  • understand they just because they make mistakes, it doesn't mean they ARE mistakes;
  • happy that they are not as perfectionistic as their mother;
  • able to let it go and enjoy the rest of their big lives;
  • find supportive friends and family (THEIR MOTHER) who can help them get perspective on the scope of the mistake and the process of correction, if applicable.

I assume it's got to start with me. I am almost over this mistake. Jeff says I will make many more mistakes before it's all over. Part of me honestly thinks that I wouldn't make mistakes at work if I didn't have a job, but that's probably part of a longer conversation. Jeff seems much better at keeping perspective when he misses something at work. Maybe my kids will get his genes if there is a genetic component to this process. If not, they'll have some good company with me. We'll pour some organic milk, talk about our mistakes, write them in a leather-bound book we'll call the MISTAKE BOOK so that we never EVER forget our errors, and vow to read the book together every night until we no longer make mistakes. Instead of reading Harry Potter and Charlott's Web at night, we will read about our mistakes over and over again hoping the memory will keep us from making more mistakes and adding to the book.

I know. I know what you are thinking: You're jealous I am not your mother.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


How the hell did we get here? 24 weeks into this second pregnancy! I can't believe it. We are very close to the third trimester and then I will seriously have to sit down and confront the fact that this baby boy is going to have to come out of my body one way or another. As it stands now, my fear is that I will be sliced and diced or that I will huff and puff and then my uterus will rupture, which will put a huge damper on the post-birth party plans, since I may end up having to have an emergency hysterectomy.

Wow, look at me being all positive and gooey about the birth of my son.

I have paperwork from my doctor that I am supposed to fill out indicating that I would like to try to have a vaginal birth, even though my first pregnancy ended in a C-section. I can't fill it out. I am too scared. I really would love to have a vaginal birth for lots of reasons I can't explain, and some that I can, such as shorter recovery time, more natural, safer in some respects, and less drama. Or so I tell myself. But, because I had Sadie in the very recent past and she was born via C-section, there are added risks, such as the aforementioned ruptured uterus. And, if my uterus ruptured, the real danger could be to the baby. If all I was confronting was the potential loss of my uterus, I might be game for that, since I don't imagine I will birth any more children. But, the thought of jeopardizing Meatball's health because I want to chase the elusive dream of a vaginal birth sounds kind of Mommie Dearest to me.

I keep thinking that science will come up with a third alternative between now and February 2, 2011. I mean, what the hell is going on in all those labs across the country? Isn't someone figuring out an alternative to vaginal and C-section births? Isn't there a think tank somewhere devising a way for a woman to get an 8ish lbs baby out of her body with out any unpleasantness such as ruptures, espisiotomies, stitches, blood loss, and other capital R risks?

Someone should start a 5K to raise money for this cause.

In the meantime, I think it might be a good use of my time to (1) stop perusing my friends' friends on facebook looking for a boy's name and to (2) start thinking of a way to embrace the birth experience EVEN IF I have a C-section. The farthest I have gotten with this is finding some very cute flannel pajamas at Garnet Hill to lounge in for the 5 days in the hospital after the C-section. I have some vague ideas about how to make the operation itself more palatable, including NOT having it at 3:00 a.m. after 25 hours of labor and maybe having more support in there. Jeff was amazing when Sadie was born, but I won't lie, I was a freaking handful that morning-- screaming that I was going to get up off the table to see my baby and being admonished by the anesthesiologist that I had to wait until my uterus was BACK IN MY BODY before I could leave. It's a lot for Jeff to handle, while also obeying my commands to check on the baby, and bring the baby to me, and be sure they don't mix up our baby with someone else's and to be sure they don't sew me up with extra surgical instruments left inside my womb.

Is it wrong to invite your therapist to come to your C-section? I'm just saying, I should get something out of this long-term and EXPENSIVE relationship and he's a freaking medical doctor.

Also, do they have to strap my arms down like I am being crucified? I am Catholic; having restrained arms has very somber connotations for me.

Yes, this is going to be a major test of my ability to let go, to trust, to surrender, to focus on the positives and to embrace all the wonderful narcotics given to post-birth mothers.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What's In A Name?

Jeff and I are working on finding the perfect name for little Meatball. Both Jeff and I are honing our lists and using our veto power to hone the other's list. We are not ready to make any disclosures, but I can share some names that ended up on the cutting room floor, even though they may have been one-time favorites for one of us:

Owen (I like this name, but it reminds Jeff of Danny DeVito's character in "Throw Mama From the Train".)

Griffin (Jeff is very smitten with this name, but I haven't come around yet. It sounds like a family name that doesn't belong to our family.)

Christopher (I love this name, but recognize it could complicate the whole interreligious nature of the marriage, considering the proximity to Christ and Jeff's proximity to his Jewish roots.)

Haden (I love this name, but Jeff finds it a little feminine. It was freshly vetoed this afternoon.)

Simon (I was actually lukewarm on this name due to some vague memories about a Saturday Night Live Skit involving Mike Meyers playing some naked British baby, so it wasn't a huge loss when Jeff gave it the old heave ho.)

Zander/Xander (I love this name, but Jeff, without explanation, declined to consider. Perhaps this is for the best since we really need to narrow down, not keep adding to the list.)

Jasper (This is the heartbreaker for me. I love this name and can picture a little cherub running around our house terrorizing us while wearing his monogrammed onsie. Jeff won't budge. Last I heard him say, "Jasper has the word 'ass" in it." I took that as a veto.)

This weekend we also got a chance to see how Sadie would react to having a little brother around. We visited our friends who have a 4-month old baby boy, and while I or Jeff was holding him, Sadie expressed her displeasure. Loudly. At first I tried to tell myself she was mad because she wanted to hold the baby herself, but she made it clear that she didn't want me or Jeff to hold any baby except for her. She also went on a bit of a sleeping strike this weekend, and I wondered if that was related. Our little Sadie seems to be deep in the throes of working on her attachment issues and object permanency, which is a lot of fun, until she starts shrieking in my ear as soon as she gets wind of the notion I might be leaving her side. On Sunday, I took a little quiet time alone in the bedroom while Sadie and Jeff were playing downstairs. Jeff said that as soon as she could hear my voice (talking on the phone) she was very upset that she could hear me, but that I was not with her.

And, the moral of that story is that I need to talk more quietly when I am on the phone.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Good Word About Hormones

Pregnancy hormones take the heat for lots of zany shit that pregnant ladies do. I am here to say something really nice about hormones, besides the fact that they are responsible for creating my children: Look at the sheen on my hair? Granted, by the time I step out the door, I look like a street urchin in less than 30 minutes, but the hair and nails are growing really fast and that's pretty fun.

Speaking of hair, I am getting that mid-pregnancy itch to do something drastic with my hair. Last time that didn't end well when I ended up with 3-inch long bangs that made me look like 12-year-old, Dawson's Creek reject. I made an appointment with the busiest stylist in Chicago: I called on Friday (October 8th) and the next available appointment is December 4th. That should be long enough for me to come to my senses and not go through the request to have the stylist turn my hair into the do that Anne Romano, of One Day At A Time fame, sported, complete with a red dye job.

Please, someone talk me out of this!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Guess Who's Going to Get an Ultrasound?

No one will be suprised that a full 48 hours after my little fender bender I have been gripped by a terrible fear that something is wrong with Meatball. It seemed like he started moving less and less and my back was starting to hurt. My mind was doing what it does so very well: obsess about horrible things happening. It's annoying enough that my back genuinely does hurt, but I suppose that could be because I spend a lot of time carrying around a healthy 14-month old or I spend ALL DAY carrying around this freaking breasts, which are NOT SMALL and petite. (These breasts are brought to you by the letter DOUBLE D and growing.)

So, I finally broke down and called the doctor to ask if she could fit me in for an ultrasound or heartbeat check or something diagnositic and reassuring so I don't have to go insane this weekend. They are going to fit me this afternoon.

Don't you know that the minute I made the appointment and surrendered to just going to the doctor to get more information Mr. Meatballs started his Cirque Du Soleil routine? I am pretty sure he's using my womb to hone a new move he'll patent when he's about 12.

I am still going to the doctor. It can't hurt to get a little more information and to hear the beat, beat, beat of Meatball's little ticker.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Dream Is Born

Today marks the day that my vision for Meatball's nursery came into full focus. All my obsessions were not for naught. I have found a theme I love that matches the room color perfectly so Jeff and I don't have to try to squeeze "Paint Nursery" onto our already-debilitatingly-long to-do list. It's whimsical. It's masculine enough, without being macho or too mature for a little baby boy. It's retro. It's functional. It's perfect, just like our Meatball.

It's the sock monkey.

OH MY GOD, have I ever been so excited? The color scheme is a muted brick red, off white, and brown. The crib will be a dark wood. The decorative rug will be off white as will the chair and ottoman, where Jeff and I may end up sleeping many a night come this winter. I found a sock monkey memory board and some vintage prints, along with a valance depicting happy, dancing sock monkeys.

I can't wait to order the bedding. I am so happy I found it for less than the cost of a human organ. It's been a hell of a week, complete with a fender bender while driving out to Hanover Park (ever heard of it? Right. Me neither), which is not the most relaxing thing to come to pass during this pregnancy. Jeff's been out of town and I have been unable to sleep because of the snoring and the obsessing and the back aches.

I deserve this. I deserve happy sock monkeys dancing around my son's room. Jeff deserves a wife who has a son who has a room decorated with a sock monkey theme, and Sadie deserves a brother/nextdoor neighbor with a room festooned with sock monkeys.

EVERYBODY WINS when the Sock Monkey takes center stage.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dear Kids

Dear Sadie and Meatball,

I love you fiercely, and I would do almost anything for you, especially now that you are too young to have formed any malicious intent or do much damage morally or ethically. But, you gotta understand that when you suffer from non-stop diarrhea for 5 days, it *may* wear on your mother.

Just a little.

I don't mean to gag when I step into your room, and it's nothing personal when I burst into tears at the site of your diaper's leaking content. It's really not.

You see, every now and then, things happen in the human body that are allegedly natural and probably quite beautiful and majestic, but sometimes the smell of all that majesty makes me weak in my knees and curls my historically straight-as-a-board hair. So, please drink your Pedialyte, even though you hate the taste and eat your probiotic yogurt or keep the smelling salts really close to your changing tables because during the next round I may faint and will need some delicious smelling uguents to rouse me up.

Wish I was kidding.

Don't hate me because I detest the smell of shit.

Love you two little birds!