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


World's Most Handsome Child


Other Important Things

Clive Owen

Clive Owen
Pretend Celebrity Boyfriend

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What I've learned in almost three weeks

Parenting two children is easy, it is simply a matter of deciding which screaming child can more appropriately be ignored at any given moment. I've been using this handy guide to help make the determination, and respond to screams in the following order of importance.

1) Blood
2) Vomit
3) Poop (uncontained)
4) Brink of starvation
5) Dropped pacifier
6) Poop (contained)
7) General injustice of being two and a half years old
8) Unacceptable waffle size/arrangement/syrup dispersal
9) Bug in my house! Bug in my house! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Bug in my house! Mommy! Go away bug! Mommy! Bug in my house! (repeat forever)
10) Poop (outright refusal to do so, to the point of being unable to stand)

Hypothetical question

Let's pretend you had a friend. No wait, let's pretend you had a friend of a friend, or maybe a friend of a friend's cousin's roommate's vet tech who had recently had a baby. And let's say this totally imaginary person was looking at herself in the mirror one evening and discovered that those short little hairs right under her real hair on the back of her neck had gotten a little cocky during her pregnancy and spread ever so slightly to the side of her neck. And let's further pretend that this non-existent woman also noticed that her ordinarily much-hated but not really offensive sideburns had also gotten a little cocky during her pregnancy and expanded downward and outward. And let's additionally presume that this figment of our imaginations was now forced to contemplate the fact that she was sporting a small amount of excess body hair that to those who are cruel-minded and cold and dead inside may resemble nothing so much as a small, sparse, hate to even say it, but, beard.

In that situation, would you advise this poor, innocent, otherwise very lovely woman to just tough it out with the reassurance that this was merely the result of overactive hormones and therefore certain to resolve itself very quickly? As in, by Friday at the latest. Or would you advise said woman to attempt some sort of hair removal, in which case and knowing that waxing is not an option due to overly-sensitive skin, what method would you recommend? Or alternately, would you merely make a sympathetic clucking noise with your tongue, send her a link to the world's largest purveyor of full-face masks, and immediately contact the American MILF Society to have her forever stricken from its rolls?

Not that I personally care, you understand. Just a totally random, unrelated to anything whatsoever, curiosity thing.

What life has come to

I'm not sure which bit of the following is the bigger piece of news, so let's just give them equal billing, shall we?

My kid pooped.

In the potty.

(And really, I don't see why people get all het up about potty training. Sure, I didn't have to change her diaper, but I still had to wipe her butt.)

Owen Wednesday #2: Pink Hat Edition

Welcome to life as a little brother, Owen my friend.

Owen clocked in at 10 lbs 1 oz yesterday, up 22 ounces in 11 days. It seems that my one real skill in life is lactating.

Day One

So, yesterday was... good. Really good, even. Granted, Owen is still in that stage where he is usually sleeping and when he bothers to wake up is generally content to stare at the wall for a while until you get around to him, and Mia seemed a bit bored for part of the day but it won't kill her to learn how to entertain herself a bit more. I even got everyone dressed and breakfasted by 9:00 - 8:30 if I get to count Owen's 5:00 feeding as his breakfast - and I only managed it because I braved a major tantrum and got Mia dressed before we even came downstairs. Oh, and I didn't brush my teeth until nearly 2:00, but that seems like a minor detail. I even did a couple of loads of laundry, just to show off and be fancy.

Mia has been sporting a major attitude problem this past week, partly I am sure attributable to Owen's arrival, but also in large part the result of the ongoing Poop Saga (oh my fucking god, how hard is it to just poop already?) and Chris being home from work for two weeks. Don't get me wrong, Chris is an amazing parent and Mia adores him, but she just gets overstimulated when she scores that much unfettered Daddy Access and it is reflected in her behavior. Also, Chris is reluctant to punish (and usually has no reason to since Mia likes to pull her Perfect Little Princess act for him) and Mia is well aware that Daddy will spend 30 minutes talking her into putting her shoes on where Mommy would give her a three count and a consequence. The result is a rather truculent toddler where usually we have a really lovely little girl.

So, we started working on attitude and behavior yesterday, and the change in the six hours between waking up and naptime was remarkable. One time-out, one sequestered toy, one mondo poop and we were back on track. Or at least back on track to getting back on track. This just confirms my no shit sherlock belief that toddlers desperately want to know exactly what is expected of them. Not that they will always choose to comply, certainly, but rules make them happy.

And now for the Random Update portion of today's post:

You remember how I blathered on and on about wearing my pre-pregnancy jeans at 5 days post-partum? Yeah well, that was short-lived. Entirely too tight denim plus recent abdominal surgery is not a good combination and after about 30 minutes I was ripping those suckers off my body and diving into some sweatpants. So now when I get sick to death of maternity pants I wear yoga pants, and vice versa.

I had my 2 week OB appointment yesterday (and a husband kind enough to come home early to entertain the toddler so I only had to take the infant with me) and I am down 30 pounds from my top pregnant weight. Of course, 10 pounds of that was baby and it still leaves me up 18 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight, and there, now you know. I suppose it isn't any wonder that I birthed a sumo wrestler when you add those two numbers together to find how much I gained with this pregnancy. However, I am only 6 pounds over my pre-pregnancy pre-diet weight, so that seems somewhat manageable. I'm still forbidden to do any real exercise though, so boo-hoo, guess I'd better just keep eating cookies and sitting on the couch for another four weeks.

Mia has started nursing and burping her dolls and stuffed animals. She does take great pains to explain that she is giving them milk from her pretend breasts, lest there be any confusion.

Owen, who emerged from my uterus the spitting image of his big sister, looks less and less like Mia every day. Even when he is wrapped in one of her pink blankets. Ah, the burden of being a younger brother. I'm sure Mia will be putting his hair in pigtails just as soon as he has enough to make that possible. He does like to freak Mommy out by choking on nothing and refusing to breathe for what feels like months at a time, but he hasn't actually turned blue since the day we came home from the hospital and has been so easy in every other way that I guess I will spot him that one.

And now, to face today. I'll be taking two children to Storytime and then to visit the Hotty Pediatrician. Pray for me.

Mia Monday #110: Pink Hat Edition

Two weeks

Owen, two weeks old today, is the world's most perfect newborn. He eats, he sleeps, he only cries when I do something horribly cruel like give him a bath or change his diaper. He rarely spits up and hasn't even peed on me yet. Let's all hope this lasts at least a bit longer, since Chris heads back to work tomorrow and it would be nice if Owen would stay in his compliant and nearly comatose state while I start making the adjustment to being outnumbered by people who pee in their pants 60 hours a week.

Since many of you have asked, no, Owen was not named for my Pretend Celebrity Boyfriend, Clive Owen. If anything, that was a strike against the name. He wasn't named for anybody, but if you are going to demand a namesake, my first affection for the name Owen was probably courtesy of this guy.

Anyway, wish me luck tomorrow. My goal is to get breakfast finished by noon.

Tuckered out

Owen lost his bloody stump today, and therefore scored his first tub bath. He was so terrorized by the experience that he had to spend the afternoon sleeping it off.

I don't know what Chris's excuse was.

It goes to 11

Mia has learned to count to 11. I didn't teach her, she seems to have learned while I was in the hospital. I have spent the past several months trying to teach Mia to count to ten, and she has been steadfastly refusing to go past three. It isn't that I really care if she can count to ten, but she's been reciting the entire alphabet for months now and I figured that if she could master 26 letters, ten numbers should be a breeze. But no, Mia's idea of counting was 1, 2, 3, 9. And then, a couple of weeks ago, she made it to four. 1, 2, 3, 4. That was it, nothing more to see here. Except that suddenly, the kid goes all the way to 11. Do you think she decided that big sisters know how to count?

* * * * *

My stomach is pretty gross these days. It isn't flabby... yet, but only because I haven't lost enough weight for it to really start to sag. But it is a bit... wrinkly, and the skin is rough and feels more like dead weight than skin and I am not entirely optimistic about what it is going to look like when all is said and done. This morning, while looking in the mirror and trying not to notice that my incision is still so swollen that you can tell it is swollen even when I am fully clothed (ew, gross), the barest thought of a tummy tuck crossed my mind. This is highly unlikely to happen, not because I am opposed to plastic surgery but because the only two things that really make me squeamish are IVs and surgery, and I can't imagine volunteering for either one. But if I were going to consider it, I think a tummy tuck may now be at the top of my hypothetical list. The rest of the list would be getting some boobs (not massive boobs, but slightly more boobs than I have boobs) and straightening my pug nose and removing the mole.

And then I got to wondering, what's on your hypothetical plastic surgery list? No bashing yourselves, please, that would get really tedious. Just, if you were going to do it, what are the top two or three things that you would do?

Sliced and Diced

For those of you late to the party, allow me to begin this post with a bit of a recap. Mia was born two and a half years ago via scheduled c-section due to being breech. This time around, I elected to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), went into labor the day before my scheduled last-resort c-section, and ten hours later delivered Owen via... well... I certainly wouldn't call it an "emergency" c-section, but it was a "pretty darned speedy" c-section.

Here's how I feel about that:

I could not have asked for anything better. I got absolutely everything I wanted out of Owen's birth.

First and foremost, I got Owen. Healthy, happy, and huge. His safety and well-being were the only things that really mattered to me, the rest of it was just static. Ok, my safety and well-being were rather important to me too, and while I did have some dicey moments the day after surgery, I'm in one piece, only moderately sore, and able to care for my children.

I wanted Owen to choose his birthday, which he did. He even defied conventional wisdom by arriving smack dab on his due date. I wanted to go into labor on my own. Having missed that with my first pregnancy and knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was my last pregnancy, I wanted to experience labor. Guess what? It hurts. I wanted that "honey, it's time" moment. And while I was not opposed to a second c-section, if it happened I wanted it to be for medical reasons, not because it was the most convenient time for the hospital or my OB.

I have no doubt that this c-section was necessary and appropriate. As Brad put it, my cervix must be good at music or art or something, because it's sure not into physical activity. For whatever reason, labor just wasn't working for me. And considering that I was carrying a 9 pound baby and am a smallish person, even if my cervix had dilated like a champ, the chances are good that a c-section would still have been the best way to go. And to be perfectly honest, I was not at all happy about the prospect of squeezing a baby of any size out of myself the old-fashioned way.

Did I miss something by never having a vaginal delivery? Possibly, I suppose, although I will really never know. Lots of women have told me that they found their vaginal deliveries to be empowering, and I can totally see that. But personally, I feel strong and empowered and amazing because of my ability to carry my two children, to nourish them with my body both before and after birth, to raise and support and love them and teach them to love. I am not likely to be convinced that my experience is missing any fundamental element merely because my children entered the world with the aid of a scalpel. I am too busy being grateful that I live in a time and place where I was able to insure the safe delivery of these children.

I do have regrets. Or really, one regret. Due to the surgery, I have had to ask Mia to continue to be patient with the things that I am not able to do. I have had to ask her to wait for Mommy to pick her up, wait for Mommy to be able to roll around on the floor and run through the halls with her, wait for Mommy to heal and get back to doing so many of the things she wants Mommy to do. And she has been so patient, so kind and concerned, but I had already asked her patience and understanding in the last weeks of my pregnancy, and I had hoped to come home from the hospital ready, or much closer to ready, to do whatever she asked of me. And I'm not, and that bothers me. And I admit to sparing a fond remembrance for my tiny, three-inch, nearly invisible scar from Mia, which has given way to a ragged, red and swollen scab that seems to reach from hip to hip. I don't care about the scar, not really, although in that secret shameful corner of my brain where I store my vanity, I do. Just a bit.

But in the end, please spare me no sympathy. I harbor none for myself.

The Story of Owen: Part Two, Highs and Lows

When we last saw our intrepid heroine, she was ensconced in her hospital bed, looking tired and a bit bedraggled from a long day of labor and childbirth on very little sleep, but also blissed out as she gazed at her strapping new son sleeping peacefully in her arms. Let's rejoin the story from there, shall we?

I finally got Owen sprung from the nursery and spent a while cooing at him while ignoring the grandparents who had come to visit and were desperately hoping for an invitation to hold my child. For his part, Owen was a dream. Slept like a baby, nursed like a champ, I felt like I was ruling the world. Until I started puking. Have you ever thrown up ginger ale? It's an odd experience, this stuff is supposed to make you less nauseous, right? A shot of Zofran to the IV and I was right as rain again - well, as right as could be considering that my uterus had recently been on the outside of my body. Finally, everyone cleared out and Chris and I had a few minutes alone with our son before Chris left to get some food and spend a few minutes with Mia.

While Chris was gone, I decided to nurse Owen and was rewarded with a contraction worse than any from my 10 hours of labor. I still had the epidural at this point and that thing hurt like hell. I am going to try not to put too fine a point on this next bit, but those of you who are squeamish may want to skip to the next paragraph. I got the distinct feeling that this mondo contraction had also resulted in a fair amount of blood, but since I was nursing I decided to just look into it later. When I finally got around to checking things out, I noticed that oh yes, there is rather a lot of blood around, and I called the nurse to mention that I was in rather desperate need of new bedding. Nobody came. I called back 20 minutes later to say that hey, remember me? I seem to have lost a disturbing amount of blood. Could someone come check this out please? Still no nurse, but Chris did come back and I made him look and he started insisting that I call the nurse again. I refused, but did joke that I ought to call and say I was hemorrhaging because that would likely get me some attention. The nurse arrived a few minutes later, and guess what? Yup, I was hemorrhaging. A quick shot of something into my still-numb leg and people stopped looking at me like they were waiting for me to pass out. Then they checked my blood pressure and all got that look on their faces again. Apparently, my super power (now tested twice within 24 hours) is the ability to remain conscious while my blood pressure plunges to levels most closely resembling death.

Once that was all sorted out, we settled in for the night. Owen slept, Chris slept, I itched. Oh, how I itched. I itched like crazy with Mia too, but that time they took the epidural out around midnight so at least I didn't itch all night. This time I still had the epidural and the double doses of Benadryl were doing no good whatsoever. It's highly annoying to be itching like mad while still paralyzed enough that you can't get to scratch where it itches and even when you can are still numb enough that scratching doesn't do much for you. The real fun part was that my left leg was far more numb/paralyzed than my right, and that was where most of the itching was. I finally propped my left hip on a towel and got enough movement and feeling back that the tearing apart of my skin with my raggedy fingernails provided some measure of itch relief. Finally, at 3 AM I begged the nurse to pull the epidural, which she did, and the itching finally stopped about two hours later.

The hour between 5 AM and 6 AM was lovely and peaceful, no more itching and the pain hadn't kicked up yet. Right around 6 was when I got my second dose of Percocet and also when somebody brought The Pain. It started as sort of mildly painful and gradually built over the next five hours until I simply do not know enough bad words with which to describe this pain, and I know a goodly number of bad words. Luckily, it was only nearly unbearable by 8 AM when, after I had spent slightly more than 24 hours leaking various bodily fluids without benefit of shower, toothbrush, hairbrush, or a change of clothes, who should saunter casually into my hospital room but the Hotty Pediatrician. I was aware enough to register that he looked pretty cute in the sweater or possibly fleece thing he was wearing instead of his usual button down and tie, try and fail to listen to whatever he was telling us about jaundice, and then had to just close my eyes and pretend to be somewhere else. I think I also offered some sort of response when he said something generally sympathetic about my condition, but I couldn't swear to it. Figures, you know? He's never going to leave his wife for me now. (Not that he was to begin with since she's totally cuter than me.)

Thank goodness for small favors, at least the Hotty Pediatrician had come and gone before I started in with the uncontrollable weeping. Now sure, I hadn't slept in over a day and had just delivered a child, but it was rather annoying to be in really phenomenal pain and have the nurses keep telling me that I was crying because of the hormones. Um, sure, that and the agony. It was worse than when I had LASIK, and after that I spent about two hours literally wanting to die. It went rapidly from wow, this hurts so much I can't even hold my kid to wow, this hurts so much I can't even blink. After no less than one hundred and fourteen years, they tracked down my OB and got her to order another painkiller, which took another five hundred and six years to come up from the pharmacy and then eight million, six hundred seventeen thousand years to start working and then finally, hallelujah and praise whoever you see fit, it stopped hurting and life was once again worth living. They also hooked me up with a sleeping pill, and can I just say that if you ever take Ambien you should take it while already in bed with your head on the pillow, because I tried to take it and then throw Owen some boob before my nap and I was fast asleep on my child about forty seconds later. When I woke up, I could very nearly remember my name, and things got much better from there.

By Monday afternoon I was feeling nearly human again and was desperate to see Mia, so Chris went home to collect her after naptime and brought her back to meet her baby brother. It was love at first sight, possibly because Owen gave Mia three stuffed Backyardigans to complete her collection plus a stack of Backyardigans books. She wanted to hold him and kiss him and hug him and understood immediately that this was the baby from mommy's tummy that she had been talking to and about for months. The only downside to the visit was the moment when I realized that I was about to fail at my goal of never puking on both of my children at the same time. Chris ran Mia out of the room while I struggled to regain my composure while searching in vain for the nurse call button. The feeling eventually passed and both of my offspring remained vomit-free. Chris hauled Mia out of there shortly thereafter though, I think after the previous two days he had limited faith in my intestinal fortitude.

Tuesday was much better, except for when the Hotty Pediatrician showed up again while I was more than 48 hours and the birth of one child on the wrong side of a shower. Please see above re: leaving his wife for me, never gonna happen-ness thereof. I had managed to brush my teeth though and was wearing a cute-ish bathrobe, so maybe that scored me some points. All that aside, Tuesday was much better. I felt ok, the drugs were working, and I made several trips around the maternity ward under my own power. I had hoped to spend only two nights in the hospital in the case of a c-section, but after Monday morning's dance with disaster we decided that another night was a good idea. I got another visit from Mia Tuesday afternoon, which scared me to death since Chris got her and took her home in the middle of an ice storm which had caused widely varied and conflicting reports of road conditions, but Chris swore everything was fine.

By Wednesday morning, we were ready to go. So ready. Going out of our minds ready. My OB finally showed up and released me, so then we just had to wait for the pediatrician. And wait we did. And wait. And wait some more. Ok, so not really all that long, but when you are trapped in a hospital and desperate to leave the wait seems like forever. He finally showed up, the Hotty Pediatrician once again and this time I was both showered and dressed but entirely too stir-crazy to care, released Owen upon securing a promise that we would be in his office on Friday to check his jaundice. As soon as we heard the word "discharged" come out of his mouth, Chris tore home to retrieve the car with the car seats, I got Owen changed and fed for the trip, we endured Owen's strenuous objections to being so rudely placed into his car seat and then he promptly fell asleep and ten minutes later I was on my couch with my whole little family finally under our own roof.

And then, not to be too corny about it, life began anew. Owen already seems like a necessary part of our family, and I am able to enjoy him in ways I was too stressed out to enjoy Mia's earliest days.

Up next, I go navel gazing on the subject of my repeat c-section. Speaking of which hey! I have a navel again!

The Story of Owen: Part One, Labor and Birth

Friday night on the way home from picking up Chinese for dinner, I had my first painful contraction. Not crash my car painful, just oh, that hurts a bit painful. Then I had my second. Then nothing. Saturday I spent the day on the treadmill and running up and down stairs and going out in public, convinced that if my water was going to break it was likely to do so next to the organic pears at Trader Joe's. Nothing. Saturday afternoon though, more contractions. Again, not huge miserable baby is coming contractions, just less than friendly reminder that I have an interloper in my uterus contractions. I finally sent Chris to Target to buy a watch with a second hand. Last minute, sure, but in my heart of hearts I never really believed that I would go into labor. While he was gone, I somehow decided that my water had broken. I blame the instructor of the childbirth class I took when pregnant with Mia, who told us that the baby's head can act like a cork and basically make it hard to tell your water really had broken. She lied. After dinner, I beached myself on the couch with our new watch and learned that my so called contractions were coming every six minutes. I finally called my OB, she told me no, you aren't in labor, stupid, and we went to bed. Where I lay awake most of the night feeling like an idiot because I didn't have a single contraction after speaking to my doctor.

5:20 Sunday morning, my water broke. Boy howdy, did it ever. I ran for the bathroom, ran for towels, ran back to the bathroom, then finally threw a shoe or something at Chris's head and told him my water had broken. He said "what does this mean?" I said "Um, I think it means we are about to have a baby." And then we both panicked for a few minutes before I decided I ought to take a shower. I wasn't having any contractions, so even shaved my legs. Oooh, fancy. Hopped back in bed after that discussing with Chris when to call the OB and his parents to come stay with Mia and generally just have 10 calm minutes together to ponder what the hell was about to happen to us. Then I mentioned that if he might want to take a shower himself since he was about 30 minutes away from driving me to the hospital. He complied, I called my OB and she told me to head on in, my in-laws arrived and Chris and I went to wake Mia and tell her what was going on. By this point, I was having contractions every four minutes or so and they hurt. I felt one coming on as we were talking to Mia in her room and I tried to get up and leave so she wouldn't see that I was in pain, but walking was not possible. It was then I decided it was time to stop stalling and get to the hospital already.

We arrived at around 7:30, got a room, changed into the sexy gown, made it to the bed without leaking too much fluid on the floor (gross, let me assure you) and then sat and waited. And waited. And waited. And then I started freaking out a bit, because the contractions were now every three minutes and hurt like hell and I was convinced that the baby was going to just pop right out any second and that when the nurse came in to check my blood pressure or whatever she would find me clutching my newborn. Ha. The nurse finally came, did whatever it is they do, hooked my up to a couple of monitors for contractions and the baby's heartbeat, and then went exploring to discover that I was 1 centimeter dilated and 75% effaced. Not good.

So then we hung out for a bit, not much going on, just chillin' at the hospital. Oh, except for the pain. And that Chris kept waiting until I was in the middle of a contraction and then asking me a question about, I dunno, whether I thought we should turn the kitchen table the other way or something. I finally told him to sit down and read a book. The anesthesiologist (who turned out to be a nice guy, deflating my theory that they were all assholes) arrived at about 10:30 and gave me drugs. I had decided in advance to have the epidural early to avoid any chance of an emergency c-section requiring general anesthesia, but I was more than ready and grateful for the pain to stop at that point. It worked, it was lovely, I felt nothing at all, and I couldn't breathe. The anesthesiologist came back and lowered the dosage. It worked, it was lovely, I could feel the contractions just enough to know they were going on but not enough to hurt, and then my blood pressure jumped off a cliff and tried to take me with it. The anesthesiologist returned again, gave me more drugs, lowered the dosage again, and we were off to the races.

Except not so much. Somewhere in the midst of the anesthesiologist visits, my OB arrived and discovered that I was no more dilated than I had been. I was having strong contractions, but they were irregular, would stop and start and stop again, and she was worried I was rupturing along my earlier c-section incision instead of dilating. That scored me an internal contraction monitor and a scalp monitor thing for Owen (which wasn't necessary but the nurse couldn't keep him on the external monitor even after three helpful suggestions that she put it on the left side instead of the right, but I didn't mind much because those belts itched like crazy).

I spent the next couple of hours lying on my side visualizing my cervix dilating and Owen moving his little head closer and closer to the world. I know, I know, go ahead and laugh. So not my thing, but I did it on the theory that it couldn't hurt. Other than visits from the nurse and a conversation with Chris about how Austin and Tasha are the B-list Backyardigans, that's how I spent the rest of my time in labor. They started me on Pitocin at around 12:30, trying to get me to have contractions that actually did something, rather than just lying there taking up bed space, and even with the epidural those contractions hurt like crazy. But they still were not regular. They upped the dose, more pain, no more gain.

I finally agreed to let my parents come visit at around 2:00. They arrived the same time as the nurse, who lowered the Pitocin dose and told me they were concerned that my "resting tone" was too high. Apparently the pressure in your uterus is supposed to go up when you have a contraction and back down when it is over, and mine wasn't going back down far enough. They flipped me around from one side to another, finally turned off the Pitocin entirely, and that resting tone just kept getting higher and higher. Then the nurse told me that Owen was showing signs that are usually associated with having his head squeezed in the birth canal, which would have been good if his head had been anywhere close to the birth canal, but it wasn't. My OB came in at 2:30, told me I was only 2 centimeters and 80% effaced and basically said well (brisk clap), that was fun, we'll have you in the OR in 30 minutes.

After 9 hours of waiting and waiting, that felt like about 30 minutes, the next hour was insanely busy and seemed to take a week. The anesthesiologist came back to up the epidural, the rolled me down the hall to the freezing cold OR, I spent 20 minutes or so lying half naked staring at a blue drape while random people did who knew what to my exposed, numb and paralyzed lower half, and then Chris came in wearing his sexy blue scrubs and the party got started. I was talking a little bit to the anesthesiologist, staring at that blue drape, wondering at how bad the music selection was, and feeling a little poking and prodding near my right hip when I finally decided to ask if they had started yet. The anesthesiologist said yes, my baby would be out in about two minutes. And then he was, or so they told me and I had no reason to doubt them. I couldn't see anything but that blue drape, so I just stared at it saying "cry baby, cry" and he did. And I did. And Chris did.

I could see him on the warming table, covered in goo with his hand flung up over his head. Chris got to go over and be with him, and finally brought him wrapped and hatted over to me. Unlike my surgery with Mia, my arms weren't strapped to the operating table for reasons unknown and unknowable, and I was able to touch Owen, then I was able to hold him. And I have no problems whatsoever with Mia's birth, but I didn't hold her for hours and holding Owen right away made a huge difference to me. It made the next two hours of recovery and being wheeled to my room and demanding in ever-shriller tones that they bring me my infant far easier to bear. Chris introduced him to his grandparents while I was having my internal organs made internal once again (and fighting the good fight against the vomit while they did it), they watched him get his bath and dressed and whatever else they do to defenseless newborns, and then he was in my arms again. A bigger version of his sister, but looking strikingly like a boy to me, rather than just a nebulous newborn.

And I was stunned by him. And I still am.

Owen Gregory, born 2/10/08 at 3:26 PM, 9 lbs. 3 oz,. 21.5 inches.

Tune in next time for Part Two, the After birth. Wait, that doesn't sound right.

Mia Monday #109: Big Girl Edition

Mia with cousin Payton and baby brother Owen.

Many more newborn pictures are here, feel free to come back and tell me how beautiful my children are.


More pics coming tomorrow, I promise. But in the meantime...

Second child

The first time I drew blood clipping Mia's fingernails, I ran for the antiseptic, wrapped half her tiny body in sterile gauze, and cried for an hour.

When I did it to Owen, I licked his finger and told him to hang tough.


Pictures are coming. Birth story is coming. Everybody just keep your pants on.

Speaking of pants, I'm wearing pre-pregnancy jeans today. Granted I am using the hair tie in the button trick and looking like I'm trying to be some bemuffin-topped hoochie mama, but still. Day 5 post-partum and I'm wearing non-maternity pants that I could button if I absolutely had to.

But on to my point for today. Mia keeps telling us that Owen makes her happy. She can't stop kissing him, she just can't. Unless she is taking a break from kissing him in order to hug him. If he cries, or really makes any noise, she heads for him in a dead run so she can make him feel better. Last night, Owen was spending a few minutes admiring the ceiling from the comfort of the pack and play, and Mia made trip after trip to her playroom to retrieve stuffed animals to give to him. Then she moved onto balls, careful each time to make sure nothing was touching his face.

I know there will be issues, I know there are challenges to come. But I also know that I have the most amazing, sweet and loving little girl you could ever hope to meet, and I am so very proud of her.

A few random observations

A c-section after labor hurts a lot more than a c-section without labor. Oh my word yes.

Leaking amniotic fluid for the better part of a day is gross.

Did you catch that Owen was 9 lbs 3 ounces? I don't feel I'm getting appropriate credit for birthing a two month old.

The nice thing about a big baby is that he has a big mouth, and for that my nipples are incredibly grateful.

Why did I think pacifiers were evil when Mia was born? I love pacifiers. I want to marry pacifiers.

My son is gorgeous.

An Update on The Fish

Hey guys, Chris here again. I just wanted to let you know that Beth and Owen continue to do well. I expect them to get sprung from the hospital tomorrow. Finally, the Cactus-Fish Four can be together in one place - home.

Since you read Beth pretty regularly, I'm sure you already know how much she rocks. But in case you didn't, she rocks hardcore. The past couple days have been pretty rough for Beth - 10 hours of labor followed by a c-section and some wicked-bad pain. And she's rocked it. She is truly amazing. But I suspect you knew that all along. I did. I just wanted to spell it out.

I'm sure Beth will tell you the whole story when she gets a few minutes to rub together. Wait, that's pennies. Anyhoo, when she has some time, I'm sure she'll walk you through it. In the mean time, thanks for all the email, comments and good vibes. We've needed them. And they worked.

You Can't Hurry Love

Owen Gregory Cactus-Fish arrived at 3:55 the afternoon of February 10th. He was ushered into the world to the strains of You Can't Hurry Love performed by Phil Collins. Ironic since there isn't an artist Beth hates more.

Owen weighed in at 9 pounds 3 ounces and is perfectly, wonderfully healthy. Beth is doing well. I am only slightly traumatized.

Thanks to all for the wonderful wishes. More details will follow.

Thoughts upon returning from my pre-op appointment


You have the weekend to come out of there peacefully, but if you choose to forgo this opportunity, first thing Monday morning we are coming in there after you. Mommy is not fucking around.

Time to get moving son.


Help Wanted!

Do you live in Virginia, Maryland, or Washington DC? Are you a registered voter? Do you have no intention whatsoever of voting in the presidential primaries next Tuesday? If so, I need your help. As each day passes it becomes more and more likely that I will be trapped in a hospital on Tuesday and unable to vote myself. This pisses me off because I like stickers.

So here's what I was thinking. I am looking for a volunteer who ordinarily wouldn't be caught dead at your local polling place next Tuesday to agree to show up and vote in the event that I am unable to do so myself. No guidance or restriction on who you vote for, or even what party you vote for, I'm just trying to avoid the net loss of one vote that will occur if I am still in the hospital recovering from the production of Offspring 2.0.

Any takers? You don't even have to mail me your sticker (although that would be totally awesome!).

Magic 8-Ball Cervix Update #4: 39 Weeks

"Very doubtful."

I told you people not to get excited.

Also, do you know that I am 33 years old and until I hit Wikipedia last night I had no clear idea whatsoever how a cervix functioned? I'm rather ashamed of that.

Nobody get excited

Still pregnant, no indications that will change in the immediate future. My water did not break in front of the Hotty Pediatrician after all, although he did offer to deliver the baby should an urgent need arise while we sat there discussing poop.

Anyway, are you guys up for a stupid question? Because I am going to ask a stupid question and I would appreciate non-mocking answers on the grounds that I am hugely pregnant and cranky and likely to cut you if you piss me off. Here it goes: How do you know if you are having contractions?

Stop laughing at me. I had lots of contractions in the middle part of this pregnancy, but lately not so much. At least, I think not so much. What I am having a lot of is the feeling that a rather large fetus is stretching out as much as he possibly can and shoving me around quite strongly in the process. But then it occurred to me that this "stretching" tends to be a constant pressure that is usually a bit uncomfortable and sometimes even slightly painful and that it feels nothing at all like the fetus kicking and sometimes recurs every few minutes for a while and I can occasionally feel him moving during the process and I thought um, duh... are these actually contractions? I mean, not labor-indicating, baby-producing contractions which are universally agreed upon to hurt like the dickens, but contractions all the same?

Don't be rude to me. I never had any contractions with Mia, so this is all new to me.

(Chill out people, I do not think I am in labor at all, not in the slightest. Just trying to figure out what to tell the OB tomorrow when she asks if I'm having any contractions.)

Alternate Due Date Blues

Still pregnant.

Welcome to my Alternate Due Date! If you trust sonogram #3, this baby is due this very day. If you trust sonogram #2, he's due on Sunday, and if you trust sonogram #1 he is entitled to inhabit my uterus until next Friday. We hate sonogram #1, we never invite him to parties. I've still got nothing over here, but I am planning to take Mia to visit the Hotty Pediatrician this morning to discuss (yet again) the Poop Issue, so the smart money is on my water breaking as soon as he enters the room. Because that would be hott and give us something to laugh about for years to come. And by "us" I obviously mean you and me, because I would be forced to never see him again as long as I live. Sure sure, medical professional, seen it all before, but it would just ruin all the fun, don't you think?

I cleaned three bathrooms yesterday, including the floors which I tend to pretend that I forgot about. Not, you understand, because I feel this child needs some sort of pristine environment to come home to, germs make you tough, but because I was hoping a little toilet scrubbing would shake him out of there. No such luck. But at least I got to admire the nice clean bathroom each of the six times I got up to pee last night. I also ate a spicy curry for lunch and spent two hours with a friend who has recently sent two women rushing for labor and delivery (to deliver babies, not just for jollies) and none of it did anything for me.

And I've been saying all along that I wasn't in a rush, no hurry, no need for this child to be born early, but I would like to retract that. I don't know how some of you go weeks and weeks past your due dates, but I am done being pregnant. Finished. Over it. Time to get out of there, little man. I'll give you a cookie.

Reasons to hate me

(Yup, still pregnant.)

39 weeks into pregnancy #2 (and final), nary a stretch mark to be found.

As I was getting into bed Sunday night, I noticed that the toes on my left foot felt a little funny. So I looked, and indeed, my left foot was looking a little puffy. This is the first swelling I've had with this pregnancy. On Monday morning, I finally ditched my wedding ring as it was becoming ever so slightly uncomfortable.

I have never vomited while pregnant.

All my shoes still fit.

Anyway, this labor thing. How does that work, exactly? I mean, I am not in labor right now. Will I just be in labor all of the sudden at some point? Or does it sneak up on you all gradual like? Will I get a memo stating I may find myself in labor at some point in the next 12 hours? Am I more likely to go into labor if I expend the effort to actually hang the pictures we finally framed for the nursery, or more likely to go into labor if I leave them all piled up in the crib? This whole "wait and see" thing really isn't working for me.

(Chris had some critical, could-not-be-missed work whatever at 10:00 Monday morning and did not tell me about it until 10:00 Sunday night. Which, dude! Clearly, that was when I was meant to deliver this baby but 12 hours just is not enough warning and now I've totally missed the opportunity and am going to be pregnant forever and it is ALL HIS FAULT, just like everything else in the world.)

(Additionally, are men lacking some genetic whosiwhatsits that allows for the loading of a dishwasher, or is my husband just trying to drive me fully around the bend?)

Like mother...

Still pregnant.

Mia tells me quite often these days that she has a baby in her tummy. So I ask her about the baby, whether he is coming out soon, what we will do with him once he comes out, and what his name is. Sometimes she tells me his name is the name of one or another of the babies of her acquaintance, sometimes she goes with the actual name of her impending little brother, but most often she tells me that the baby in her tummy is named Baby Hotty Pediatrician. (She uses his real name, obviously.)

Mia has also been refusing to poop again, which calamitous and really fucking annoying results, and I keep telling her that if she doesn't poop I am going to take her to the doctor. To which she says "OK!" and smiles and asks if we can go now, right now.

I think my toddler may be trying to move in on my (totally in my own head) boyfriend.

Mia Monday #108: Last Days Edition

Everything we do these days, I think oh, this is Mia's last whatever as an only child. So naturally, I had to document the last only child playground trip this weekend.

Still pregnant


Just ignore that blurry bit at the bottom, I had to Photoshop out my underwear.


Being 39 weeks pregnant is about as much fun as you would expect. I spend all of my time tracking any possibly new symptoms or sensations and wondering hey, is this it? Is this going to turn into labor? The fetus was swishing around in slightly unusual ways last night and I was feeling even more ouchy than usual, so I had myself half convinced that I would be in labor by morning. The result, of course, was that I am still well and fully pregnant but was unable to sleep most of the night. (For fear that I would miss it, apparently.)

And man oh man. I have a firm policy to never discuss my family here (other than Chris and Mia, of course, but I never tell you anything about them that they wouldn't tell you themselves) but my mother is driving me up the wall. She emails me several times a day and calls and yesterday sent an email that just said "anything happening?" I am torn between responding with "Oh yeah, I had the baby three days ago. Didn't I tell you?" or "Well, during my last cervical self-exam I noticed that I was slightly more effaced than I was three hours ago." And I know she's just excited and eager and whatever and I am trying so hard not to be bitchy (hence venting to the internet rather than to her), but I am still a full week from my due date and oh my god I do not need to be fielding eight inquiries a day from her for the next week. My second favorite mom-comment from yesterday was "Just think, if you had wanted a second c-section, you could have had the baby today!" Yeah, thanks.

And here ends the bitching about my mother, because yes clearly I am ungrateful and horrible to be so unkind about her genuine concern. Argh.

Now just in the interest of full disclosure, I have a bit of a confession to make. If I don't go into labor and end up keeping my date with my scheduled c-section, I will be a bit disappointed. I really do want at least the opportunity to try it the other way, for an assortment of good and valid reasons. But at the same time, I think I would be ever so slightly hugely relieved to make it to the 11th and go oh well, gave it a good shot, now where's that scalpel? I mean, there are a couple of ways in which I believe a vaginal delivery may be preferable in my situation to a c-section, but having already done the c-section thing it is a hell of a lot less scary to contemplate. I guess in the final analysis, I'm not overly happy with any of my options for getting this baby out and it is a damned good thing that having him in there is starting to be so miserable or I may have considered just keeping him.

Oh bummer

My cats have been dead for almost two years now, and it still makes me sad to open a can of tuna fish and just drain it down the sink.

Anybody wanna come over for a dish of tuna juice?