So the Fish Said...

Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, that you be my poem, I whisper with my lips close to your ear.

- Walt Whitman

Meet the Fish

I want to get a pet duck and keep it in the bathtub.
I am addicted to chap stick and altoids.
I am freakishly flexible.


World's Most Beautiful Child

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World's Most Handsome Child

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Clive Owen

Clive Owen
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Apple, pecan, pumpkin, humble

I haven't posted in... whatever. Sue me. The child, she does not sleep.

I spent Thanksgiving with the usual assortment of relatives and refugees, mostly from Cameroon (the refugees, not the relatives, who are mostly from Ohio and California). I was talking to one of the men over dinner, and asked how long he had been in the U.S. Four years. I later asked if he had any children (I had my squirming, spitting child on my lap at the time) and he told me he has a five year old daughter. The last time he saw her, she was a baby, maybe just learning to walk and talk. Now she is a child, running around, talking a blue streak, in school. He hasn't seen her in four years and has no idea how long it may be before he sees her again. The red tape to bring her here is daunting - asylum hearings, expensive physicals, immigration interviews. He must bring here here; he cannot go visit her. He left his country and his daughter behind because he feared for his life. He feared that his government would imprison or kill him for doing things that are legal and championed in the U.S.

Each of the 10 or so refugees I dined with last Thursday has a similar story. So many aspects of what has happened to them are tragic, but I can't stop thinking about the children. Maybe it is having a daughter of my own that suddenly made it so real to me. I don't know how they made that choice, I don't know how they get through each day and month and year with no idea when they may be reunited with their families. I don't know how they stand the thought of their children growing up without a mother or father and I don't know how they find the strength to get up every day and struggle in the hopes of holding their children again.

And my problem? My child is too much with me. She keeps me awake by only wanting to sleep with me. She keeps me from doing laundry by only napping in my arms. I feel humbled, chastened. I keep thinking of these people I've met, and others like them, who would give everything they have for their child to keep them up all night. Who would gladly take my worst day with Mia and rejoice to have that same terrible day with their own child. Now when I lose my patience, when I am so tired and frustrated that I start snapping at my baby who is, after all, just being the baby she is, I try to remember these people who's fondest wish is to have what I disparage.

So tonight when Mia wakes me up (if she lets me go to sleep at all, which she didn't last night) I will try hard to be grateful for the opportunity to hold her and kiss her and rock her for hour after hour. I will try hard to rejoice in it, for those who cannot.

Thankful


Four Months

Mia Bean,

You were four months old yesterday, and I am a day late writing this. Mommy isn't perfect, I think it is time you learned that. Yesterday was a big day. We went to the pediatrician for your four month check-up and learned that you are healthy and perfect and sixteen pounds thirteen ounces. You had to get three shots and you screamed very nicely at the nurse and then promptly fell asleep. The other big thing from yesterday is that you looked me straight in the eye, grinned from ear to ear and broke into your first ever, no doubt about it, great, rolling belly laugh. It was like every bell in the world pealing in tune and if I never sleep more than 30 minutes straight for the rest of my life (which is starting to seem likely) it will be more than worth it just to hear you laugh.

This month, you learned that you have hands! And a mouth! And the hands! Can go in your mouth! Sometimes you are happy to loudly slurp your thumb, but most of the time you look like you are in a contest to see how many fingers you can fit in your mouth and you are determined to win. Your aim is getting pretty good, although you still sometimes get a finger up your nose or in your ear.

The other thing you have learned this month is to pick things up, either when we offer them to you or when we carelessly leave them within your reach, and cram them into your mouth, usually along with a couple of fingers. One of your favorites is a toy that looks like a strange butterfly/bee hybrid that we have named Muhammed Ali.

Your attention span seems to get a little longer every day. We can measure it by how much of the sports report on the local news you watch each night. You love the sports report. It doesn't matter what you are doing - playing, sleeping, eating - when you hear the promo you stop and fuss until I sit you up so you can see the tv. I don't know whether you have a particular affection for football or that is just what they usually show first, but you do seem to pay special attention to the football. You like it so much that your father and I decided to turn on ESPN and see what happened, except that we couldn't find it. I'm very sure that our television has never been on ESPN. Are you rebelling against us already?

We stopped swaddling you to sleep about a week and a half ago, and so far it has not been a rollicking success. You were waking yourself up at night trying to get your arms out of the swaddling so you could suck your fingers, but now you wake yourself up flinging your arms around and smacking yourself in the face. This morning, you got up at three and refused to go back to sleep, so your father got up and took you downstairs to try to stop us both from crying. It worked.

Speaking of your father, you have finally decided he is pretty cool, after a few months of a rather lukewarm reception. You save your biggest smiles for him when he gets home from work every day and where you used to only want to look at me now you much prefer to watch him. He has been spending lots of time playing his guitar for you, and you watch him do it with a look of complete awe.

Two weeks ago I went to a wedding and left you alone with your father for 5 hours and 42 minutes. It was the longest we have ever been apart and the farthest I have ever been from you. The wedding was an hour away, which turned out to be a good thing since it gave me time to stop crying before I got there. You spent about three hours screaming, because you were hungry and refused to take the bottle. It was a hard day for both of us, but I am glad we did it because I think that day you started to learn that you can be away from me and it will be ok. Since then, you have been a little more willing to go to other people and a little more accepting of letting your father be the one to comfort you. I am glad that you are becoming more secure, are learning how to spend a little time away from me and know that I will be back and that whoever I've left you with will take care of you, but watching you grow up a little bit every day is bittersweet.

Mia, I am lucky if I get an hour a day when I am not either taking care of you or running around like crazy trying to just unload the dishwasher in the five minute stretch in which you are content to amuse yourself, and even during that hour a day I tend to check you three or four times. Sometimes, that starts to seem like a hardship and sometimes I get upset about it and feel like if I don't get away for a while I will go mad. I'm telling you this now because it will probably continue for many years to come. But, even when I feel like I need to get away for a while, I also feel hugely fortunate to be able to spend all my time with you, to be able to put all my efforts into you. There is no job, no hobby, no anything that is more important, more valuable, more rewarding or more wonderful than you. I would not trade being here every day to see you learn and smile and play with you and wipe your chin for any amount of money, power or fame.

Love,
Mom

Remembrance of Sleep Past

If anyone ever wants to torture me for information, you should know that my breaking point for sleep deprivation is one week. (However, I will tell you whatever you want to know in exchange for chocolate chip cookies.)

Last Monday, we stopped swaddling Mia at night because she kept waking herself up trying to get her arms free. Since then, I have gotten no more than three hours of sleep a day, and most days much less and in chunks of 20 minutes or so. Mia is still a great sleeper, she just refuses to do it anywhere near her bed and insists on sleeping on or next to me. If she is feeling generous, she allows me to lie in bed while she sleeps, if not she will sleep only if I am entirely upright.

I am not a family bed person. I don't have anything against it, I am just terrified of squishing the baby. I even refused to even hook her co-sleeper to the bed because I worried I would push a pillow on top of her. The inch and a half between her bed and mine made me happy. Over the last week, I have been letting her fall asleep in my bed and then putting her into her bed, only to have to pick her up again within half an hour. I tried to do the same thing last night, but the exhaustion got the better of me and I would wake up utterly surprised to find Mia right next to me. This is not good.

This morning, I educated Mia in the use of power tools by strapping her co-sleeper to the bed. This required taking my bed apart to raise the mattress. Twice. I am hopeful that this will satisfy her insistance on sleeping with me and still let me get some sleep instead of staying awake all night to make sure I don't roll over. If not, I think it is time for Mia to bond with her father.

(I know we are still very lucky and some people go through this for months, but she was sleeping 8 hours straight at four weeks and I got spoiled.)

Now if you will excuse me, I need to go lie on the floor and cry. I promise it is the only logical thing to do.

Not one of my better ideas

Mia is a rather prolific spitter, thanks to reflux and the overabundant milk supply available from my ta-tas. (By the way, do you think that when I finish breastfeeding I will get to keep the breasts? I never cared about not having them, but it is nice to not have to trade entirely on my smokin' ass.) I use cloth diapers as burp rags (but never as diapers, yes you may curse me for my careless creation of more trash for our landfills but I will just plug my ears and chant "I can't hear you" in a sing-songy voice) and I have a collection of about 40, which sometimes allows me to go an entire day without doing laundry. The burp rags are scattered about the house, but invariably there is never one around when I need one. I tried always having one slung over my shoulder, but it falls off or gets used and abandoned in the kitchen sink and I end up trying to catch a milk geyser in my cupped hand to prevent it from splatting onto the couch. (Have I mentioned the glamour?)

A couple of weeks ago, I hit upon A Clever Idea! I tucked a clean burp rag into the back waistband of my (pre-pregnancy, ha!) jeans as an emergency back-up. The theory was that I would always have an extra at the ready if need be. I promptly forgot it was there and took Mia on a thrilling trip to the bank and Target. Hours later, I remembered my Clever Idea, only to discover that my emergency back-up burp rag was missing. I wondered briefly how long I had wandered around Target before it fell out and hoped that I had at least given my fellow discount superstore patrons a good chuckle.

Knowing me as I do, I was not all that suprised that the real solution to the mystery of the missing burp rag was worse. You see, I found the burp rag later that afternoon, I had not lost it in Target after all. I had, however, made a pit stop before running my errands and had cleverly dropped the burp rag straight into the toilet.

I guess I'm just glad I didn't flood the house, because fishing the pee-soaked diaper out of the toilet bowl which is increasingly filthy thanks to my cleaning lady's stubborn refusal to work for free and Mia's stubborn refusal to ever nap ever and my searing hatred for cleaning bathrooms (why can't men pee in the bowl? how hard can it be?) was quite enough motherhood glory for one day. Although I must admit that back when I had my fancy job with my fancy private office and was almost never covered in vomit, I had to fish my ID badge out of the toilet after it fell off my waistband. Um, more than once. And also my pager. Apparently splashing around in toilets is some sort of hobby for me. Possibly I need to get out more.

Suck

Why is it that Mia will suck any and everything that comes within range of her mouth, including her clothes, my clothes, the remote control, the cats, and the bed posts, but consistently turns her little nose up at the pacifier and the bottle?

God help me when this stubborn child learns to talk.

Birthday, Part Two

So, yesterday was my *cough* 31st *cough* birthday, but the anniversary of the actual moment of my birth did not occur until early this morning. You see, I was born at 11:14 PM in California, so it was not until 2:14 this morning that I marked 31 full years. Therefore, I have declared today Beth's Birthday, Part Two - let the wild partying continue.

A couple people asked what Mia got me for my birthday. It's a long list, I'll try to remember everything. She let me take a shower, she took three naps - two of them somewhere other than my lap which is the only place she will usually nap and which allowed me to change the litter boxes (three for two cats, don't ask) and empty the dishwasher, she did not pitch a hissy fit in the grocery store, she barely threw up on me at all, and she insured I appreciated every last moment of my birthday by keeping me up all night last night. She also gave me three new Dr. Seuss books and the latest Particia Cornwell book, which I know will suck but which I will read anyway because I do that.

Chris completely violated our agreement to not do birthday gifts this year (the budget, it is a little tight now that I am unemployed) and got me a gift certificate for a spa day. When I kindly pointed out that he wasn't supposed to get me anything, he said, "but you really deserve it" and how can I argue with that? My parents also gave me a spa gift certificate, so, like, woot. Do you think it is ok to go get a massage when I haven't showered in three days, because if not this is going to take a lot of planning.

Finally, Chris gave me something that I have wanted for literally 20 years and at first was too embarrassed to ask anyone for and then was unable to find. This is quite possibly the greatest gift I have ever received and I could not stop myself from doing a little happy dance when I opened it. I've posted a picture in the extended entry so you can all share in the magic.

Now, you are all going to click the extended entry and think "oh that Beth, what a card she is, what a joker." Let me assure you that I am completely earnest about this and could not be more thrilled. I'm serious about this, totally, one hundred percent serious. You may feel the need to mock my joy, but I'm so excited by this gift that I really don't care. Honest.

Continue reading "Birthday, Part Two" »

Thirtysomething

So it's official, I'm over 30. Last year, I had a limo. This year, I have a bouncy seat. I think I'm having more fun this year.

Nope, I lied. This is the best birthday gift ever

My clothes? My real, pre-34-pounds-of-pregnancy-weight clothes? They fit! This is excellent news as I am attending a wedding tomorrow and was slightly concerned that I would have to wear faded yoga pants. I would have rocked the yoga pants, of course, but will look slightly better in my fancy suit with sexy matching shoes (which also still fit).

Best birthday present ever

I will be 31 in three, count 'em, three days.

This morning, I was carded when buying wine.

The cashier seemed somewhat taken aback when I kissed her full on the lips, but you card a 31 year old woman schlepping an infant in a stroller and that is the price you have to pay.

Keeping the romance alive

Last night, as we were getting into bed, Chris presented me with a used and somewhat worse for the wear nursing pad that he had discovered among the blankets on the bed. He then noticed that I had already uncovered the matching nursing pad and placed it prominently in the middle of his pillow. I don't know that we are great minds, but we sure think alike.

Enfranchised

Like mother like daughter.

Belated

Four years and 24 days ago, a good friend of mine passed away. He had a massive heart attack and died within minutes. He was 25.

He and I were nothing alike. He was loud, outgoing, funny; I am quiet, introverted and serious. We had almost nothing in common. We disagreed on almost everything. I have no idea how we ended up friends, but somehow, we were kindred spirits. We used to joke that we were each other's evil twin. He was one of the closest friends I have ever had, closer than people I have known much longer because we could, and did, talk about anything.

I've been trying to describe what it was like when he died, but even four years later I can't bring myself to do it. It was bad. For a long time, I held to this very highly-developed fantasy where he showed up at my house one day and said he had just wanted to get away and I screamed at him for what he had put his mother through. I had another one where we would find among his belongings a stash of letters to be opened upon his death. I could not believe that he was just... gone. I could not believe that he would just leave me like that, and for a long time I could not forgive him for it.

I did denial, and anger, and finally acceptance, because what else is there to do? But, October 14 has been a grim, black day for me ever since. One that I feel and dread coming every year. Except this year. This year I forgot. I remembered this morning, and I felt awful, like maybe I had forgotten him. Like maybe in giving up the terrible way I missed him at first, I had given up missing him at all. I haven't forgotten, and I haven't stopped missing him, and I haven't stopped trying to live the things I learned from him, but this year I was too busy living my life to mark his death. I think that would have made him happy.

I posted this last year, but it is worth posting again. Right click and save please, to hear him sing.

Miss you, Peanut.
Like crazy, baby.

I've got nuthin'

Actually, that isn't true, I just don't have time to type nuthin'. However, and as an explanation for not having time to type nuthin', I do have a really cute baby.


Cuter than a sack full of puppies

I wish I could post a picture of this, but I can't so you will just have to take my word for it.

Mia hates being on her tummy, and she loves being naked, which has led me to institute Naked Tummy Time every morning. Hand to god, if there is anything cuter than a pudgy little naked baby butt and chubby little naked baby legs trying to roll over I don't know what it is.

This is why you have children, right?

Ordinarily, I make it a policy not to stick bows and ribbons on Mia's head. There is, however, an exception to every rule.

Continue reading "This is why you have children, right?" »

Second verse, same as the first

I'm not thinking about getting pregnant again, but I am thinking about thinking about it. Before Mia was born, I thought I would want to wait several years to have another baby, but now that she is here I'm leaning more towards doing it sooner. So I was wondering, what's the "ideal" age difference for siblings?

My brother is three years younger than I am but was four years behind me in school. We fought like crazy until I moved out of the house, but I don't know how much that has to do with our age difference and how much it has to do with being very different people (although the older we get, the more alike we are). Chris is an only child so has no experience to rely on here.

This may very well be a moot question since it took us a year to get pregnant with Mia, but I thought I'd ask anyway since you are all so smart. What do you think, internets? If we have a second baby, what's the best time to do it?

Shoulda mentioned that I would like the second child to be born before I am 35 and I will be 31 in *gasp* 13 days.