Monday, April 28, 2008

Under the Weather

I guess it's not a mommy blog 'til you post about poop, so here goes. Consider yourself warned.

Jo's been having diarrhea since Saturday. When the pediatrician was talking to us early on about diarrhea as a symptom, we asked how we would know if he had diarrhea since breastmilk poop is so, um, liquidy. She said, "You'll know." She was right.

He is in good spirits (despite the photo; it's not from this weekend) and clearly hydrated. Let's just say the kid has good aim. Co spoke to a pediatrician at our practice today (Cakie's doctor, as it happens) who said not to worry, diarrhea can take a while to resolve for those on the all-liquid diet.

I have been under the weather as well, with similar difficulties (and Cali's sick too, can we pass this thing from blog to blog??). Thanks to the joys of state testing, I can't stay home any day this week, either. Fortunately, tonight Co made matzah ball soup and fresh bread. Perfect.

And another weather complaint: it's been raining all. day. and my weather widget suggests it's going to keep it up all week. I cannot take a week of indoor recess.


I was a huge fan of the now-cancelled Li.fetime original Strong Medicine. The premise of the show: scrappy, smart-mouthed (and extremely hot) Lu Delgado (Rosa Blasi) runs a free women's clinic. When she is offered the chance to base her clinic out of a wealthy local hospital, she must work with former beauty queen Dana Stowe (Janine Turner) who treats rich women who want procedures like vaginal tightenings. Later in the series she gets to work with Patricia Richardson, who is an Army doctor. Comic relief characters include a male nurse who does tantric yoga and one of the twins from Sister, Sister. I do not still watch this show in reruns because of clever writing or skillful character development. I have my Buffy for that. No, Strong Medicine is for the involved, attentive, holistic medical care fantasy I developed in my 30s. Lu follows her addict patients into their drug dens, trolls the streets with a megaphone when there's a formula recall, goes to jail to protect her patients. A house call is just part of her regular day.

In our midwives, I have finally found my Lu. Co and I have both switched over to them for gyn care, so today I had my first appointment as their official patient. It was wonderful and despite tummy troubles and testing, I left the office in a much better mood than I'd been in for several days. How often can you say that about your gynecologist??

Midwife Strawberry didn't hurt me when she did the internal exam, said she didn't think my weight would have a huge impact on fertility, signed the medical form for the 2nd parent adoption (our regular doctor wanted my thyroid checked first; she doesn't believe, I guess, that I can gain weight all on my own without any assistance from my thyroid). Both midwives oohed and aahed over how gorgeous Jo is, and are excited for me to get pregnant (which will not be anytime soon). I love them.


I also had a great conversation with Midwife Strawberry about this whole working mom thing. I've been doing a lot of thinking about my identity as a parent/mother, and how that meshes with other aspects of my identity. Specifically this: I like my job. I like to work. I don't like time spent away from Jo, and if I had my absolute "druthers," I would work part-time. (That is not a financial possibility, nor would I be effective in my particular position if I were part-time, I don't think.) I still need to be the rest of who I am, in addition to being a mother. Midwife S. said she thinks she'll be the same way. I know there are lots of moms out there who love their kids and their work, but I've had a lot of internal churning as I figured this out for myself. I've also had trouble finding other moms with whom to have this conversation, I'm not sure why.


I'll close with a Jo anecdote. He has a new favorite pasttime: grabbing an object with both hands and flapping it up and down. This works best with soft items, like burp cloths, diapers, and clothing, which he grabs whenever he gets the chance. We gave him a floppy stuffed bear for this purpose and he's been flapping it madly. I'll try to get some video up on flickr.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Spilling Up and Rolling Over

The title of this post is a lesbian joke that indicates I was born in the wrong decade. But the real news: Jo rolled over!! First tummy to back, then back to tummy, all on Monday.

Co, because she is the best, took video so I got to see his early attempts when I got home from work. He's been flopping around ever since like...well....Flipper. (We still call him that.)

Without further ado, here's the rolling boychik.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Jo's First Passover

We spent the first seder, as is our custom, with Co's "Jewish family," the B's -- the parents of her college roommate J. Co spent seders there for several years before we met. College roommate J. became Due Date Buddy, and is now mom to Leo, born four days before Jo. J. and her husband P. are also Jo's godparents ("kvaterin" in Yiddish), and we joke that the B's parents are therefore his grand-godparents.

My mom and her husband also came to the seder, the result of a sneaky yet brilliant move on my part: I asked the B's to invite them this year, thusly circumventing the knock-down drag-out fight about where Jo would spend his first Passover. (We love to go to the B's, and since my mom threw in her lot with my sister's in-laws, holidays with her/them have been tense and unpleasant at best. It's a longer story I may end up posting about next time they piss me off.) So Jo got to be with his Grandmom, we got to be with our extended B family, and everyone had a great time. I hope I can continue to be this creative with family politics. In any case, here is the sweetness of Grandmom snuggling her little guy at his first seder:

Jo looked smashing in his new bib from his Grand-Godmother:

And a bit goofy in a yarmulke:

Leo sported a yarmulke from his other grandfather (in case you can't tell, it emphasizes a certain team loyalty):

Here is Jo, reading along in his Haggadah:

And here is Leo, taking the seder very seriously (the onesie reads "Grandma's Little Matzo Ball"):

Jo also got the chance to see his other godmother Auntie A. (wife of Auntie S.), and their 3-year-old Z., on the way home from their seder. Z., in her role of "Bat Kvaterin" (Godmother's daughter) gave Jo a plastic frog to represent the flog plague. His Jewish education has begun.

As usual, Co has been using her culinary talents to keep me from matzah-related despair (and, uh, matzah-related digestion). She made the most delicious chocolate matzah to bring to the seder. And she's planned meals for the week that will be unleavened yet delicious, while providing leftovers for me to take to school for lunch. Tonight we had lemon chicken. What a wife!

Good Yontef to all who celebrate!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I'm a Winner!

So first, I won the most delectable raspberry-lemonade soap scrub from the U.T.E.R.U.S. auction. It's made by Backyard Soaps and I want to eat it, it smells so good, though I have contented myself with scrubbing.

And then there's Prizey. Thanks to art-sweet, I have become somewhat obsessed with this site. I've won a stainless steel water bottle (nice, but too heavy for my everyday shlep-to-work use), a pair of C-section underpanties for a friend, and a nursing tank for Co. But today, oh look what came in the mail: a Scootababy. For ME. Well. I will let Co wear it too. But I love this carrier. It is an excellently comfortable choice for the full-figured gal. Co describes it as a cross between the Ergo and the Maya. Mine is the funky jellybean print.

Happy Pesach to all who celebrate! Jo's Grandmom is in town; here he is reading "My First Passover" with her (note Maggie's ear to the left). Pix of his first seder to come...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mama & Son

Mama & Son
Originally uploaded by familyo

Melt my heart, people.... That's my boy.

(I don't know how it happened. We made no effort to match the donor to my looks. But I admit, I love being told he looks like me.)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

4 Months Old!

Jo is 4 months old today (His Grandmom, sweetly, called to wish him a happy 4 month birthday. And his mommies made sure to have some cake.) This picture of him was taken a few days ago, and it's one of my new favorites. I can see in it the little boy he will become.

Some highlights of life with Jo:

*His favorite new trick is blowing raspberries. He takes a deep breath, purses his lips, sometimes pokes his tongue out slightly, and blows. It makes a very satisfying noise, and baby and mommy/mama get sprayed generously. He does this all. the. time.

*He rolls from side to side, and is trying really hard to sit up. He can almost do it by himself.

*He has stopped hating tummy time, and enjoys pushing himself up. He still doesn't like the position for prolonged periods of time, but the pushing up is new and exciting. We still sing "Eye of the Baby" and the theme from "Rocky" during Tummy Time. ("Rising up, back on the Gymini...Just a baby and his will to survive..." I'll spare you the rest.)

*He loves to play with toys, including rattles, keys, and small stuffed animals. Oh, and books. The tasty kind.

*Today we got out his highchair seat for the first time. Dr. Rightwing suggests that during the fifth month, babies might enjoy sitting in a highchair and playing with small blocks on a tray. Since we had both the highchair and the small blocks we gave it a try. He enjoyed it for about five minutes, which was long enough to get some adorable pictures. He looks like such a big boy to me when he's sitting in his highchair.

*We took him to an infant massage class yesterday, and of all the babies his age (most were younger, one was just 18 days old!) he was by far the wiggliest and most active. We are in for it, I think.

*Today I finally got out my children's music collection to share with him. It's a combination of records from my own childhood that I've put on cassette, and cassettes I've collected over the years through my work in children's radio. Co has a lot of great music she's downloaded for him, and has wonderful playlists on her computer that he really enjoys. My collection is harder to access because (I realized today) I've been tending it for twenty years, so the lion's share is on cassette rather than CD (and I don't do computer, for music, but that's another whole post). So today I pulled the relevant cassettes out of their alphabetically/chronologically organized casette holders and put them in a box by the stereo so I'll be able to grab them easily. I've already made him a section on our CD rack. (Only for my sweet Jo would I interrupt my musical organizational systems.) All of which is to say that, today, I played him songs from my childhood, and tapes I've had since I was in my twenties, and even my teens, thinking that someday, someday, I would play them for my own child. I had tears in my eyes.

*His favorite song -- he grins when you start to sing it -- is "I Had A Rooster."

Here's his four month photo with that other Flipper. This picture also marks the first time we've successfully caught a smile on camera. (The red-eye reduction light gives him the deer-in-headlights stare you see in most of our flickr photos.)

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Daycare, Week 1

We all survived! Jo spent two half days and, on Friday, a full day, at "school." His caregivers say he is adjusting. He has been eating plenty and napping some.

Next week he goes for two full days, and then the following week is my spring break. It's a work in progress, but so far the mommies are relieved and pleased.

And here's what a big boy Jo is! (His three-month picture was taken three weeks ago so now he's bigger still!)
[Bottom right 3 days old, bottom left 1 month old, top right 2 months old, top left 3 months old. Click on photo to see a larger view.]


This post was sort of inspired by Calliope's beautiful testament to her Grandmother. However, while Calliope's story is bittersweet, mine is just plain bitter. I didn't want to post my story, when there are so many lovely blog posts you could be reading about grandparents. So it was really Sophia's honest posts about her own family that made me decide to air my own dysfunctional and dirty laundry.

I hope that at some point, Co will post about her grandmother (who helped to raise her) because her story, like Cali's, mixes up the bitter and the sweet and, it must be said, the raucously funny.

The short version is that I never had a grandparent relationship. As I've grown older I've been more aware of this absence; even now, at 33, I have friends with living grandparents, and friends who have lost grandparents only recently. It is simply not a connection I can imagine, which makes me feel a little awkward and embarrassed.

My father's parents died young. I am named for my father's father (his name began with an L.). His mother lived until I was 2 1/2. I might remember her, just a touch, or I might just remember the photographs and stories I grew up with. I am told she loved me and I cherish that information. I still have the stuffed toy she gave me as an infant. My sister, born when I was three, is named for her.

(My father's family of origin had plenty of dysfunction; however, my grandmother loved me.)

My mother's parents, on the other hand.... To engage in a little distance, retroactive, amateur diagnosis: I think they were both narcissistic personalities. At the very least. When my mother and her younger brother were growing up, the family moved every few years because my grandfather had trouble keeping jobs. They lived in towns where they were ostracized for being Jewish, and they lived on the grounds of a mental institution. My mother was left with her grandparents (her mother's parents) for many summers, as well as her entire kindergarten year (hence, she attended a Yiddish-speaking Socialist kindergarten). My middle name is the same as my great-grandmother's, the woman my mother saw as her mother figure. Mom continued to be parented by her grandparents until they died when she was in her 20s; her own mother would refuse to speak to her for months and even years at a time.

When my sister and I came along, my mother had fantasies that her parents would redeem themselves by being loving grandparents. However, we were just afraid of them. My grandmother screamed a lot. My grandfather told jokes, but literally turned away if we cried or asked for anything.

I have one first cousin, 4 years older, the daughter of my mother's baby brother. C. grew up in California and every summer my grandparents would pay for her to fly east to visit her father; but because they paid for these arrangements, she spent the bulk of her visit living with them (her dad lived nearby). She would come to visit us after weeks of living with our grandparents, and dealt with the experience by organizing myself and my sister into plays that re-enacted the household. She played my grandmother, I played my grandfather, and my little sister played cousin C. The usual scenario was that as our grandmother, C. wouls scream at me (our grandfather) while I sat on the couch, watched T.V., and pretended to eat Oreos. Then Grandmother/Cousin C. would turn on my sister (playing Cousin C.) and tell her she was too fat and needed new clothes. My parents were both amused and horrified.

When I was nine, my mom threw my grandmother a huge surprise party for her 65th birthday. It was a big deal with a rented restaurant room and calligraphy on the invitations. Cousin C. was flown in from California. A few days later on Thanksgiving, my mom and grandmother had a huge blow-out fight because my grandmother accused my mother of throwing the party just to show that nobody liked her. Now, this is insane troll logic. The party was HUGE, the most impressive affair my nine-year-old self had ever attended. But my grandmother did not speak to my mother ever again. Three and a half years later we got a call that she was in the hospital; my mom planned to drive down to see her that weekend, but we ended up driving down for her funeral instead.

My grandfather insisted that my grandmother died without a will, meaning, of course, that he became the sole inheritor. All of the family (my mom, her brother, my cousin, and my grandfather's sister) firmly believe that he destroyed my grandmother's will. She had some money inherited from her parents, and she would have left some to cousin C., to our cousins who immigrated from Poland to Canada, to the young woman she virtually adopted after saving her and her mother from an abusive father/husband (my grandmother, unbelievably, was a social worker by profession). She really would have. My mom and her brother tried to do some investigation about the will, but it all led to dead ends like a dead lawyer, and some "private time" my grandfather had insisted on spending in their safe deposit box.

Just one month later, my grandfather announced his plans to marry a woman my mother's age with whom he had been carrying on an affair for ten years. She was his secretary. I saw him less than a handful of times between my grandmother's shiva and his death a few years ago. Except for one random card when I was in college, he never contacted me, my sister, or cousin C. My mother spoke to him on and off; every single one of their phone calls ended with him raging about how little she appreciated him. She kept calling every so often. "Where there's life there's hope," she always said. But when my grandfather died, neither she, her brother, my grandfather's sister, nor any of his three grandchildren went to the funeral.

I don't know what went wrong with my grandparents. But my mom is healthier than her parents. And my sister, cousin C. and I are healthier still.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Daycare, Day 1

Today was Jo's first day of daycare. The plan is for him to attend the staff daycare at my school (named The Village, as in, "it takes a") on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 8:30 to 3pm (my work hours).

I drove in today, only the second time I've ever done it. (An aside: I really love driving to work, which I didn't expect. I thought that traffic, tunnels, and parking would all be a hassle. They are not; the commute is shorter; and the sense of freedom in my car with my moonroof and my radio....well. Unfortunately it's too expensive to be a regular thing.) I had company because a colleague, who lives around the corner from me, needed help shlepping some sound equipment to work. We sang Pete Seeger and Ella Jenkins to Jo over the bridge and through the tunnel. I ran into another colleague as I was parking, who helped me ascertain that my parking place was legal (the parking rules are confusing in the town where I work) and then helped carry Jo's stuff to the building. I was a little tearful after I dropped him off -- it was hard to leave him -- but fortunately teaching is an absorbing profession so I didn't dwell on him once I got to my classroom.

We're only putting him in for half days (3.5 hours instead of a full day of 6.5 hours) for the first two days (today and Thursday). Co came to pick him up at noon, and he was in a good mood, so she brought him over to my building to visit. (Our school is in two buildings, across a small playground from each other.) So I got to show him off to my colleagues and students, which was, of course, awesome.

He got a good report from his caregivers at The Village. He only napped for ten minutes for them, but he does that to us some days too. He also willingly took a bottle.

In addition to Jo, the other residents of The Village right now are two-year-old twin boys. (The cap is five kids, with the two caregivers.) I don't think they appreciate the disruption of their routine, to be honest (they've been alone in there for over a year) but we'll all get used to it.

We lost two socks (one each from two different pairs) but that is the worst thing that happened. And now we will put him in shoes for daycare.

So, the first day is over. The mommies are breathing a big sigh of relief.