Monday, December 31, 2007

holiday luster

Frances let me step out of the baby room at church yesterday for 15 whole minutes and she didn't even cry a little! That was at the end of the time. I'd tried to step out twice before and she fell to pieces. But she got settled with the two girls who keep the babies in there, and she was fine. I'm so pleased about it. It might mean I can actually be able to go back into Worship and leave her. It might mean that, for the next two and a half months, I can sit in the quiet and focus on the spiritual for 45 or so minutes every Sunday. Then the baby will come, and that will be it for a good while. But 2 and 1/2 months—that's 10 whole Sundays! Maybe I shouldn't get my hopes up too much about it. We'll see how it goes next week.

Christmas was wonderful. I had a large number of family here on the 23rd and served my first big holiday meal. It was very nice despite the fact that I "cooked" the ham for 2 hours in an oven that was never turned on. We just got out appetizers and wine. My brother-in-law suggested that it was a tactic—get the folks hungry and give them enough wine and any meal will taste great. It's pretty effective, it turns out.

And Christmas with a kid is a different country. All the excitement comes back. I even had a new take on Christmas lights in front yards—always I've judged these things by aesthetic standards. Meaning, I've never gotten the huge blow up santas, the giant plastic snow globes filled with snowmen, the lit and moving reindeer. It just didn't make any sense to me. But now, seeing the awe on Frances' face, I get it. None of the over-the-top decorating is as comical to me as before—it has taken on a luster I didn't expect.

So...I went out on the 28th and bought a 6-foot silver tinsel tree at half price for next year. Silver! And I got some light blue balls to go on it. Our little shiny green tinsel one is cute and all, but it's not going to do when there are twice as many enchanted kids in the house. M won't agree to a pink tree ever, but somehow I got him to say he could handle silver. I'm so excited about it I almost want to put it up now, but I'll hold off. It will be our new exciting tree in our new house in a new city. (Is it too melodramatic to say it will be a new life?) It's the next phase, anyway: the two kid, gainfully employed, snowy winter, silver tree phase. Have I said lately that I'm no longer panicked? Our futures come to us filled with uncertainty and these days that's exciting to me.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

hormonal emotions, emotional hormones

I'm so emotional these days, which is two parts comical and one part traumatic seeing as I'm not emotional enough in my non-pregnant state. Mitch is feeling a lot of pressure right now in trying to get things done on the dissertation, since in March he's not going to get anything done for a while aside from diaper changes and late night burpings. This morning he grouched at me just the tiniest bit and I dissolved into tears. I couldn't pull myself together for hours. Later, the kids did a christmas pageant at church and just afterward a 12-year-old came up and handed me this index card with two stick figures holding hands on it. It said, "I wish you a friend when you need one," and I almost started crying again right there. I thought maybe it was some kind of omen or divine guidance, and then I realized the kids were handing them out to everyone. I left it on a table in the fellowship room. 

I don't know why I'm so emotional. I mean, of course it's because I'm pregnant and wacky with hormones, but that's not all. Two weeks ago the hormones were just as plentiful and I didn't cry every time someone smiled at me then. The only thing that's different, really, is that I'm not working. School is out. Which means I'm home all the time with Frances. My patience is not as thin as I expected it to be but I wonder if it's more trying for me than I realize. She's in this complete mommy stage where she not only wants me to hold her all the time, but she runs her hands in my hair and kisses and hugs me and puts her fingers in my mouth and ears. Penelope Leach (child expert author) says that for the toddler this stage is like the infatuation of early love; you just can't get enough of the other person. I suppose if I think of it that way I'm somewhat flattered and more sympathetic to her plight than my general reaction which is that I simply can't breathe. 

She is cute when she kisses me. 

Thursday, December 6, 2007

the hard stuff

Frances' fever spiked Monday night. (Again these things going awry in the night! Why not 3 pm??) She felt so crummy that she couldn't do anything but cry for ages and ages. We took her pjs off and put her in the bath and tried to cool her down, but it wasn't until the tylenol kicked in about an hour later that she was able to be at all calm. We both were up with her and after awhile it was sort of like in the early days of baby when there's nothing to do but be up and accept it. We watched tv; we talked; we felt what the middle of the night feels like. It's not so bad. 

The next day she was very fussy and still feverish. After her 10 minute nap (seriously) she was especially a mess and for a while was completely inconsolable. I felt so helpless; I wanted to be able to comfort her, but she was just so miserable. Some of the time she didn't even want me to hold her, or she couldn't accept my comfort, or something. She wanted me near, and I think she actually wanted to be held, but she wouldn't let me touch her; she would just stand in front of me stamping her feet and crying. When I'd reach for her, she'd push me away. The thought to smack her actually crossed my mind; I haven't had that thought since she was very small and would cry for hours. It startled me, and I just put my hands over my face and cried myself. It wasn't that I was angry—it was more like wanting to shake her out of it. I was just helpless. I sobbed, big racking sobs, and this, interestingly, actually quieted her for a moment. I'm sure it was funny to see Mom cry like this. It felt like an appropriate thing to do with those feelings. 

That was 2 days ago. Yesterday her sitter, whom she loves more than anyone else in the whole world, called me in the afternoon to say she was inconsolable again. For her to be fussy with C means something is really wrong. So we took her to Urgent Care last night, where they told us what we suspected: ear infection. What I didn't know was that it was both ears. Last night she had her first dose of antibiotic and today is a much better day. 

It doesn't disturb me now that I thought to hit her, but it did then. It's so clear that having a kid puts you right in the middle of it and you're forced to face your stuff. So much of it is an exercise in BEING, in feeling what you're feeling, in sitting through the boredom and frustration and powerlessness and worry and the certainty that we don't have a clue. It's all very spiritual, this experience, and it's not surprising that I sometimes want to escape. I have a hard time being present for my life as it is, even without the difficulty of caring for another human. Certainly doing it well (being a good parent) means accepting that you can't always do it well, that sometimes you'll have thoughts you don't like, that sometimes you'll respond in ways you wish you hadn't. Thankfully all I did yesterday was cry.

Monday, December 3, 2007


My child has a rash. She woke up with it Sunday morning, welts the size of a dime, a quarter, a pack of cigarettes on her stomach and thighs. Then it was under her arms, the whole area completely red and alarming, some of it puffy, some just flat and angry. By midday it spread down her side and onto her back. When she went down for her nap one cheek was pink and when she woke up it was the other. And it had spread up onto her neck while she slept. This morning her entire torso was one huge red splotch, though it hasn't taken over her lower legs, her arms, or her face. Because it's winter and she's clothed in the house, you actually can't see much of it with her clothes on. But every time I change her diaper I'm alarmed all over again.

And it's hot. Everywhere that's red is hot to the touch. Tylenol helps some, but not entirely. She's got a bit of a fever and is, as you can imagine, quite unhappy about the setup.

Yesterday when I called the after-hours nurse she said it didn't sound like anything serious but that I should keep her away from other folks, especially pregnant people. Well, that's helpful.

M took her to the doctor this morning (while I explained to drowsy 18-year-olds how to prepare for an in-class essay exam) and the doctor said, "I don't know what it is but it will probably go away in a few days. If it doesn't, bring her back." Ah, yes. I suppose I should be relieved it's not rubella or meningitis, and I am of course, but not knowing is troubling. We can't for the life of us think of anything to which it could be a reaction—and it's probably just a virus, like they said, that will pass. I understand that it's common for kids to get rashes when they get colds or regular viruses. Since when? I don't remember anything about that from my childhood. So if it's a regular thing—okay; still, it's so startling to see.

And this is one of those situations (I know there will be many many many) where I feel my heart on the outside of my chest. It's just hanging out there, exposed, raw. And every time I look at those welts my raw exposed tender heart aches.