Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Labor in reverse

So, another event goes down in the books. Despite my fear of forgetting something huge, or some unforeseen calamity occurring, everything went swimmingly, and today I feel terrific. This story would be dramatically different had you talked to me Friday night, however.

It's a natural analogy to compare running an event or any kind of production to birthing a baby. But it is kind of in reverse - starts off intense and like a steamroller out of control, then slowly gets easier and ends quietly. And after fifteen of these events, we're really down to just the minutiae - tiny little tweaks and details to make everything run perfectly. It's a far cry from the early days when I used to make huge mistakes and was such a ball of stress I couldn't eat or sleep for days.

The only thing other than the usual stressors that got me this year was Bumpus started to get sick - crusty eyes, coughing, hacking, labored breathing. I chalked it up to air conditioning and bad re-circulated hotel air quality that makes us all sound like Brenda Vacarro by the end of the weekend, but I wasn't sure. By the end of Friday I was so stressed out and convinced he was in trouble that I just lost it and started crying my eyes out - I could picture taking him to an emergency room in the middle of the night, him not being able to breathe, basically every parent's nightmare. But as my Doula Friend who was the weekend babysitter pointed out, he was still smiling and happy, not listless, and no fever. My hotel contact ran out and got a humidifier for me which I used that night, and he seemed to
improve. Also as the days went on it was clear he had not in fact contracted some virus and was not developing pneumonia or anything like that.

But here I was, dealing with uptight and intense dance competitors freaking out over every little thing - where are the pins for our bib numbers? My partner is going to be late, can we go in the last heat? What are the song tempos going to be like? And being so worried about the baby, all I could think was, "fuck off! I have a sick baby on my hands! I just want everyone to go away so I can breastfeed my baby and comfort him!"

It was challenging having a small baby during the event, for sure - and I definitely couldn't have done it without all the help. The whole time I couldn't help but think, "it's so weird, he'll never be a little baby during the event ever again!" By the next event he'll be 1 1/2 years old and into everything - but not breastfeeding, and probably with a bedtime and not waking up every couple of hours, which will be so different from this year, which was all about rationing the pumped breast milk (I didn't have enough - no surprises there), wearing breastfeeding-friendly dresses, and not getting ANY sleep. Next year there will be a whole new set of challenges.

So after Friday night's freak out, the rest of the event was all downhill as it always is. I haven't processed the credit cards so I don't know where I stand financially yet, but I am feeling pretty optimistic.

And now I get to enjoy a year of being with the Bumpus all day, every day. A few days of intense stress and risk is a small price to pay for that payoff, really.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Survived!

Too tired for a weekend wrap up, but here's some photos - story to follow!

Monday, July 23, 2012

That old chestnut



I debated on whether or not to even write today since there are bloggers out there who are having real problems, and mine just seem so stupid and petty in comparison. They don't just seem stupid - they ARE stupid. So I hope if you read this you understand that I am not being normal and rational right now, and there's a reason. I believe with my event coming up in three days that I have been experiencing a return of my "old" self which is being brought on by anxiety out of control, and it looks a little like this:

I have been feeling like garbage lately, even though nothing is technically “wrong”. Because I’m doing all that old stuff. Nightmares. Horrifying scenarios running through my mind all day about Bumpus dying. Choking disorder when eating. Irritability. Impatience. Inability to get joy out of anything. Obsessing on tiny turns of phrase or tones in people. It’s that old anxiety monster. And there’s really no cure for it other than the event being over and my stress level going down.

I was actually so bitchy the other day that I caught myself thinking, as I turned on the amazing air conditioning in my car to cool down on a hot day, “of course it would have to blow right in my face.” I’m starting to sound like my mother again.

So this is what happened with my party. Even with my friend graciously helping, even with her picking up the food, even with everyone having a great time, getting to bond with an old friend and his new baby, even with getting gift cards which is far preferable to acquiring a bunch of crap I don’t want, even with everyone helping clean up so there’s nothing to do today, I still wasn’t happy. What the hell is wrong with me?

I was annoyed that many of the people who RSVP’d didn’t show. People kept pointing out, “there’s a lot less people this year,” which annoyed me.

I was annoyed that many of the people who did show had to leave early to go somewhere else.

I was annoyed that many people came late.

I was annoyed that once again only about half the food was eaten and had to be thrown away.

I was annoyed hardly anyone went in the pool.

I was annoyed it wasn’t hot enough.
 
I was annoyed by everyone’s toddlers running amuck and wanting to mess with the baby (toddlers just can’t keep their hands off of babies, apparently).

I was annoyed that I feel obligated to put on this party every year, yet I’m so over it – it’s expensive and a mountain of work and just isn’t fun for me. Yet at the same time I feel like it’s an important pre-event bonding experience, since it’s really the only time these people get together. But next year the event won’t be right on its heels, which means either a) I won’t be as stressed out so having the party will be a better experience, or b) I can feel free to stop having the party and travel instead, maybe go to Hawaii or see the family.

I feel like my party is a tradition…and yet like many traditions I believe it’s the type that gets taken advantage of; when people know it’s always going to be there, they skip one or the other. Lord knows I’ve had much poorer turnouts at my party than this year (like that one wicked hot year where everyone just stayed home because of the heat). I should keep doing it, really. But God is it a lot of frigging work!

Since I woke up all pissed off today, I thought I should try to look at the bright side of all the things that annoyed me – like, look at all those nice people who DID come to my party, spend the day, and bring me presents.  Don’t they get any credit? Look at the people who stopped in even though they had somewhere else to be. Look at my friend who helped SO MUCH and took so much of the stress off of me (and it was an enormous help). Look at how lucky I am to even know enough people to have a party.  Most people would just have awkward gatherings with old college friends and the guy who works in the cubicle next door.

But look at ME, who has this beautiful, perfect child, an event that’s successful, and tons of great friends, even if we don’t spend the time together that we used to, even if we are all kind of going our separate ways.

As of today I have 589 people.  That’s phenomenal! I hope I get to 650 by Weds night, although even if I don’t it’s no big deal – I’ve already exceeded all my own expectations. Of course the money still sucks, but I still maintain that it will even out in the end. There are TONS of extra women, and I know this will be a problem, but I have a plan to fix this for next year so I can at least stave off the complaints with that. And we’re moving to Labor Day next year. Apart from worry about the money stretching that long, I really don’t have a bad thing to say about that.

But much like my pre-eclampsia only being curable by giving birth, there really is no cure for my bad feelings other than getting through the event and it being over. All the self-talk in the world won't really help the fact that I make my entire living off of one long weekend a year and that long weekend starts in three days. I challenge anyone to remain cool as a cucumber under those circumstances.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

God bless the helpers

Today I took on the odious task known as "party prep". Boy do I love entertaining, but do I hate cleaning everything up for it! Fortunately the gal who's house hosted my shower had offered to help, so she came by to help me scrape a year's worth of neglect off of everything in my back yard. It is a HUGE task.

Walkways have to be cleared and swept, furniture set up and scrubbed, garbage taken down two flights of stairs. Then we had to drop all of my unwanted kitchen crap at Good Will, then buy all the ice & drinks...and all this in the 90+ degree heat, in the direct sun, up and down stairs. This person is an angel sent from heaven, I swear.

Last year I did all this by myself, while pregnant. Of course I didn't know I was pregnant at the time; I wouldn't test until the following morning. I remember last year thinking, "I really shouldn't be lifting this, I really should take it easy," but luckily this little zygote had dug in and wasn't going nowheres!

I'm still always amazed when people put themselves out and help others. I mean, I love helping people, but why do I assume no one else does? My sister reminded me that our mother wasn't a helper, so we got this fear from her, that we'll somehow annoy people by asking them for things. I have a friend who I would never ask to come over and scrub my outdoor furniture, because I know she just wouldn't want to. So I guess there are people out there who are just selfish and don't ever want to be put out.

I had asked for help because I was afraid Bumpus may need attention - but short of one quick feed, it turned out he didn't; he just sat contentedly in his swing, playing with his toes. I only had to check on him from time to time to make sure he wasn't being eaten by fire ants, and that's it.

Some of you may not want to hear this, so skip this paragraph if you need to! The weight loss continues. I have now broken the 135 barrier and weighed 134.8 this morning. I feel like I'm 18 again and can eat whatever I want and still lose weight. But the big question is - what happens when I stop breastfeeding? Will I blow up like a balloon? Am I developing terrible habits? Once I have to make an effort again, will it be torture? I do worry about this. It's why I don't like extreme weigh loss, because it's impossible to maintain. But at this rate if I continue to breast feed for many more months I could waste away to nothing.

Bumpus loves rolling over onto his belly. The days of leaving him unsupervised on the bed are over! In good news, he has all but stopped screaming in the car, is very alert these days, and wants to see everything. He is a fascinating little guy, I have to admit!

Friday, July 20, 2012

T minus 5 days

It's all event, event, event from now on. I'd love to have a "Stress-O-Meter" to attach to myself during this time to see what my reading is - and then the consequent reading Monday after the event. It would be an interesting experiment.

Around now I like to predict what the weekend's issues will be. I am almost always wrong - usually things I think will suck end up being no big deal, and unanticipated things crop up just to chap my hide. There's always something random that annoys the crap out of me during the last week. In 1998 it was renting linens. This year it's finding a replacement yoga teacher for the morning sessions.

My kitchen is done, but the painter guy said to not put anything on the shelves for several days to allow the paint to set. I may however break down and clean up tonight - I've spent a week with my food and dishes and cookware all over the floors of my house, and I'm kind of over it. However, I'm utterly delighted with the results of the kitchen. It's clean and fresh and bright and I just love it. So worth the expense and inconvenience.

So how has it been preparing for my event with a baby? About how I expected. I just need to pace myself, plan ahead, and prepare to be interrupted. I can't dive into those six hour projects and expect to get them done all in one day - I need to break these up over several days. I'm currently in the middle of several of these. They will be wrapping up next week.

How having a baby during the event will go is anyone's guess. I figure he'll be on me much of the time, and there will be lots of breastfeeding during contests. I have been diligently pumping every day to get a supply going, but it may not be enough. Oh well, I figure if he's bottle fed during too much of the weekend it'll cause me to dry up anyway, and that can't be good.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Boys vs Girls

Fascinating "Pregnant in Heels" episode last night, in which Rosie Pope admitted she was having anxiety about having a girl because of her own abandonment by her mother, and her fear of repeating unhealthy patterns.

When I discovered Bumpus was a boy, my family and close friends who know my mother situation all said, "that's much better, you can make a fresh start and not always have to compare your relationship to your daughter to your childhood relationship with your mother," and things of that ilk. And I agreed, as much as I mourned the idea of having someone to dress in cute girlie outfits, play with my barbies, etc.

Not a day goes by that I don't think about what a boy Bumpus is, how he's brought such a male energy to the house, and wondered how differently I treat him or think about him because he's a boy and not a little girl. I think I'd be softer and gentler with him if he were a girl; like most single mothers, I'm sure, I am terrified of emasculating him. I want to make sure he feels secure in his sexuality; I want him to be happy being a boy. I want to do what I already know is impossible - I want him to not miss having a dad.

But so much of how I relate to him is based on the fact that he's male. I call him "buddy". I try not to coddle him. I talk to him in a way I wouldn't if he were my daughter. I worry about raising him as a vegetarian, taking him to musicals, reading him Little House on the Prairie. Am I prepared to teach him a male identity? Do I know how to do that?

I guess the real question should be, what is a male identity? And more importantly, what will male identity be twenty years from now? I'm interested to find out!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Better in concept, pt II

So, I know this is well-travelled territory, but why is it we feel so pressured to make holidays and birthdays "special"? To the point where nothing we do could possibly make the day as special as it's supposed to be?

I had originally intended today to be all about nothing - no work, no going out, just a nice relaxing time with the baby. Well, a couple of well-meaning friends invited me out and I went for it. I should have stayed home.

I was supposed to meet the first friend on a very busy, loud street in front of the vintage store where I worked a few years ago. She was a half hour late. By the time she showed up, poor Bumpus had been woken from a dead sleep by several ear-splitting fire trucks and police sirens and eighteen wheelers that had him in hysterics (and thereby, me too). We had lunch but Bumpus was super fussy and squirmy and drove me nuts - then we went to the vintage store where I had been looking forward to a nice long shop - but it just depressed the hell out of me. The place is dingy and messy and chaotic, a real hoarder's nightmare. The owner was there, and we had a nice chat, but it was hard to forget how badly things had ended there (she was so rude to me one day I up and quit). I bought Bumpus a couple of cute vintage outfits so the day wasn't a total loss. But I opted to save my own vintage shopping for later - much later.

Then I went to dinner with another friend in a loud, chaotic mall. This time Bumpus slept delightfully the whole dinner (praise God) until I was in the changing room at Anthropologie and he started screaming (probably because I kept taking off my shirt without giving him any breassesses). Right now I feel completely wiped out, sick to my stomach from stress and over eating, and over it.

My father sent a happy birthday email; my mother did not. Then again I don't acknowledge my mother's birthday, so I have no reason to think she would, mine. Still I found it interesting how much I thought about this today. It reminded me of the NPR story about the boy whose mother sent him a letter every day he was at summer camp and his father who only wrote him once - and the boy kept and treasured that one letter and didn't keep any of his mother's letters. So for all the years of my childhood when my mother made me a cake and bought me presents and made a nice party for me, no credit, but my absentee father wishes me happy birthday once via e-mail and it's an event. Ain't that some bullshit?

I got an email back from my midwife I'd written some time ago asking if Kaiser would allow a scheduled c-section rather than an induction if I were to develop pre-eclampsia again. She said yes, but an induction a second time would probably go faster than the first, and I really should talk to this therapist who deals with traumatic birth situations. Ha ha ha! I believe that ship has sailed, but I'm glad there is therapy for those circumstances. I guess I'm so not thinking about ever giving birth again right now that her gentle suggestion just sounded funny to me.

Oh, and someone tagged the inside of my garage today. Happy birthday to me. Blurgh.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Last day in my 30s

Just for the record, I have no bad feelings about this. Much like my life insurance policy, I've considered myself 40 for the last six months anyway. And I think 40 suits me. In my world, it's about age and respect and experience anyway, not youth and beauty. So I say, bring it on!

Naturally having had a baby makes a huge difference. Not that I had a deadline or anything, but I know for me how lousy I'd feel turning 40 with no relationship, no kids, meanwhile everyone around me works on their second kid already. It's easy to sit here now and say, "nah, I wouldn't be jealous, I'd be cool with it," but I know darned well that's not true. If not for Bumpus, I'd be kind of sad and kind of lost on the eve of my 40th birthday, instead of feeling good and hopeful and positIve. And that's the truth.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Good mail day

I rarely get anything pleasant in the mail - like most of us, my mail usually consists of useless supermarket circulars, credit card offers, and bills. But today (meaning, Saturday's mail I didn't pick up yesterday) had two awesome things in it. One was an Anthropologie gift card from my sister for my birthday, and best thing ever - my acceptance by Healthy Families!!!

I had a note to myself to call next week if I hadn't heard anything. Instead, after seven months of utter frustration, back and forth, and $1200 in full-price health care premiums, I now have $24 a month coverage for the baby. Fantastic! I swear that extra $300 I've been spending is going straight into savings!

This came at the end of a very annoying back and forth with the hotel where my event is being held, again, in which my rep told me they are pulling all cash and beverage sales - the full service bars for the night dances, and lunch buffets for my customers, leaving them with virtually no way to get lunch during classes or a drink during the dances at night. I'm going to call again tomorrow but for right now I've just about had it and can't deal with talking about this issue anymore. It's just too frustrating. It can wait 'till Monday!

Next week is my last full week before my event. My days are numbered. I am trying to cobble up some enthusiasm to overcome the bummer the hotel management has become; they are going to bring a hail of complaints and unhappy customers on me, that's for sure. Sigh. Good times.

Kitchen and front yard should be finished tomorrow. I have decided once my event is over to pull all the dried out, spindly lavender plants and do all succulents instead. It can only be done a bit at a time due to costs, but I am determined to finally have a nice looking front yard that will stay that way, and I think succulents are the way to go.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

House projects galore

So I thought I was nuts to do a kitchen renovation with a baby and two weeks before my event, but it actually hasn't been too bad. I just felt this sudden need to spruce up the house before everyone comes to my birthday party next Sunday. I want to make a good impression, you know?

And as always with these little, inexpensive projects, I can't believe I tolerated the old crap as long as I did. I lived with a greasy, grimy, half painted kitchen for ELEVEN YEARS. Even five years ago when I had tons of home equity and no baby it didn't cross my mind to fix this...? Well, the problem was I had so much home equity I was planning on moving, or doing a major renovation. So a little paint/carpentry upgrade wasn't really in the picture.

It's definitely made me think about how we put up with unacceptable crap in our lives just because we get used to it - in our jobs, our families, our relationships. I've had this god-awful ear splitting buzzer for a doorbell for all these years, so bad that it's startled me into dropping dishes, screaming in fright, etc. Finally got a nice Westminster Abbey doorbell as part of the kitchen upgrade. Umm, why didn't I do this the second I moved in? What the heck?

With the painting of the kitchen I believe I've nearly undone all the mistakes I've made around here. The guy returns to finish up Monday - he has only to paint the ceiling and cabinets and the wainscot over the sink. Then I have to scrape the years of grime off of all my decorative items and put them back and we're done. Just in time for a baby in motion!

Here are some "before" and "during" pics:

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sitting up (kinda)

Although I admit I never really did Tummy Time with Bumpus (as in, not a structured time each day with a special mat, etc), I have lately been putting him on his stomach here and there to see if he'll roll (rarely) and have been holding him in a sitting up position a lot because he seems to like it. Yesterday I busted out the Bumbo for the first time. I can see how I shouldn't leave him unattended in it; it could topple over at any time. But he does seem to enjoy it!

Yesterday was a better day as my interaction with the hotel was minor - limited only to emailing them that their online registration wasn't working AGAIN. I tried to just put them out of my mind. It falls under the "nothing I can do about it" category.

I can't wait for the event to be over. Just thinking about how stressful it's going to be is so upsetting (although, again, so glad to not be sick to my stomach like last year). I hope in the next two weeks I can cobble up some enthusiasm for it, because right now I just want it to go away and leave me alone. Which is normal for right now; happens every year!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Forever blowing bubbles

Bumpus has discovered he can blow spit bubbles, and it's his new obsession. He also now entertains himself in his swing or on the floor by chatting and cooing, and now making a little sound that sounds like the beginning of laughter. For those of you who advised me that the first six weeks are really hard but that it gets much better, you were so right! He's just a ball of joy and fun lately. In fact, he's the bright spot during this very stressful pre-event time.

Spoke to my hotel rep today in hopes of feeling better, but I actually feel much worse. After ruminating on it all day, here's what I think is going on. I think this hotel, probably like many, thought once the recession hit that they needed to give their customers a lot of breaks and perks to keep their business. And now it's four years later and things still suck, so they have decided to start "cracking down". This is the term used by the rep today - someone, upper management no doubt, has decided it's time to "crack down". So yes, I'm stuck paying full rate for my 100+ staff rooms next year. The midnight breakfast buffets I have for my customers are not making enough money so those will probably be pulled this year; the lunch buffets may be pulled next year (and considering there's one crappy sports bar with terrible service and nothing but wings to serve 500 + people in the hotel, this is a major problem). Already I have no band in the lobby (my volunteer guy who does this every year is out if town this year), and nobody to teach yoga (again, volunteer person out of town - it will cost $600 + to replace her, if I can even get someone at this late notice). Oh yeah, and my rep just sighed when I demanded a plan for the parking and said she couldn't promise anything, and by the way, she won't even be present to oversee my event like she usually is because she's moving that weekend. So you want to run a dance camp for a living, huh?

I just hate that this is supposed to be my big 15th anniversary, and yet the quality of the event is being so compromised, AND my budget has ballooned out of control all for things that don't make the event better for anyone. And I'm very worried about the future - any enthusiasm I had about moving to Labor Day has been squelched by all these threatened cut backs and rate increases. And just for the record, I'm trapped - it would cost me several hundred thousand $$ to break my contracts for the next three years. So, no moving to a new hotel, and no not doing the event. My ass is theirs until 2016.

Fortunately they always do an intensive survey after the event online, and if things go at all the way I think they will, I will absolutely tell them I don't feel valued and have noticed a serious decline in customer service lately. Hey, if all my customers get to bitch to me about petty, unimportant shit, I should be able to bitch to the hotel over this big stuff, right?

In good news, my AC works, which is fantastic on these 100 + degree days. My kitchen facelift is going swimmingly. It sucks having people in the house every day and my kitchen torn up, but the end result is going to be an amazing, sparkling clean kitchen, something I've never had here. It wasn't terribly clean when I bought in 2001, and I just slapped some paint on it inexpertly and left it half done all these years. It'll be worth every penny to have it done by a professional!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A different 2 ww

My event is in two weeks, and I'm feeling it today. There are so many annoying little details left that I feel like throwing my hands up and saying "f it" to half of them. This is precisely how I end up dropping the ball and let some small thing slip, like not having a warm up dance before a contest, which then goes on to haunt me months later as people bitch about it online. There simply isn't enough time left before the event to focus on, and insure the proper execution of, all those little details.

I am not at all confident in my leadership at the hotel, which scares me. My usually totally on top of it hotel rep has been MIA for weeks - every time I email her something needing attention right away, I get a response saying she's out of the country for the next few days. Her assistant is brand new and totally incompetent. And today after asking how many more special staff rate hotel rooms I get, we discovered the last assistant had been giving me tons of discounted rooms I wasn't supposed to get, and so as of next year they are going to start charging me full rate, which means I'll be stuck spending about $4000 more a year from now on, for exactly the same thing. Ugh!

Last year (and every year, actually), the parking was such a debacle that people actually told me I should find a new location. I've stressed over and over that this just can't happen again, but I have this sick feeling that once again this super important aspect of the event will be ignored and I'll be stuck juggling furious over-charged customers all weekend again. The thought of it fills me with terrible dread.

There are a million other annoying, stress-causing things going on with regards to my event, too many to even catalogue here. Well, one good thing. - I won't have morning sickness this time!!!

Tuesday is my 40th birthday. At the moment I have no plans other than going to the vintage clothing store where I used to work which is having a huge sale and spending money I don't have on cute vintage clothes for me and Bumpus. I thought about planning a dinner or going to a movie or something, but honestly I kind of want to spend my birthday with my son. Even if we just sit and watch TV together, that sounds like a happy birthday to me.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sole benefactor


Ok, so, I’m still slightly traumatized by my travel experience. For the most part I think I’m fairly competent at this mom stuff – I don’t get too frazzled, in general. But I just found travel with the baby – and he’s a really good, content baby – to be infinitely more stressful than I ever imagined. Maybe it was just because it was the first time, and after this it’ll be easier…but so many moms have told me, with memories of screaming toddlers and spilled Cheerios in their haunted eyes, how much easier travel is NOW with a small baby who just wants to nurse and sleep. You mean…it gets even worse?

I agree with Shannon that the only way to handle travel with two small children is to just not do it at all. I realized during my trip that travel with a baby and a toddler would not only be difficult but actually physically impossible – I mean, I just plain couldn’t do it, period. Which as I’ve mentioned means no seeing the relatives for several years. Which means not only would the relatives miss out on the kids, the kids would miss out on the relatives, and I would miss out on the relatives. And if we’re talking years, this means there’s an outside chance that some of the more elderly just plain might not be around when the kids are older and we can travel again. All of this really put me into a tailspin. It made me think, for all that Robert and I would have to sacrifice for him to have a sibling, is it really worth it?

Yesterday I had a lot of paperwork to do and Robert was especially fussy.  He needed me a lot, and I had to keep stopping my work to entertain him. And I was ok with it, since I planned ahead to not be stuck with mountains of work at the last minute that couldn’t be spread out over several days. But again I had the thought, “imagine trying to get all this work done, AND have a fussy baby that just wants to be picked up, AND have a toddler who needs you?” It just sounded horrible. I think multiple children is when the whole “importance of the dad” thing really comes in to play. One woman can manage one child just fine. It’s when you’re outnumbered that the trouble happens.

So let’s just examine again my desire for two children. The possibility of a girl, sure. Someone for Robert to play with. Someone for Robert to have who’s intimately connected to him other than me. The lifelong gift of a sibling. But more and more I feel like my desire for two kids really has to do with keeping up with the Joneses – as if I still have something to prove (ie – “see, not only can I have one awesome baby without a man, I can have two, ha ha!!”). When in reality there’s nothing at all wrong with only children. And he’ll have tons of little buddies in the dance world to grow up with, maybe even biological half-siblings if I get to connect with some other choice moms using my donor.

I know for a fact, just based on how my feelings for my dog have declined since the baby (they hadn’t initially, but when she started barking all day and night and pooping and peeing on everything, I seriously wanted to “re-home” her), that it would certainly at the very least deprive Robert of his current share of attention if a new baby came into the picture. Is this wrong? Not really; all kids have to learn to share, and that’s one thing siblings give us. But oh, the difficulty! The expense! The toll on my body and state of mind to have to endure another pregnancy and labor! The struggle of balancing a newborn and a two year old! Ugh!

Right now I can still kind of hang in there – my life hasn’t really changed that much. I can still go to my clubs and do my activities, I still get sleep and time to do things like blog and mess around on the internet and care for the house and animals. And it’s affordable. But with two all of that would change – I think the sacrifices would start coming hard and fast, and with it all that resentment and bad feeling I had so hoped to avoid in motherhood (and so far have avoided).

It sucks that if there were a husband in the picture, baby #2 wouldn’t even be a question. But the fact is there is no helper, and I’m not rich enough to hire one. I discovered on this trip that I only have two hands, one lap to pee on, and two shoes to be spit up on. Lately I’ve just been thinking two children would not only be hard on me but actually kind of impossible.

In other news, I started a $500,000 life insurance policy today. Guess who gets to be the sole benefactor?


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Cuteness

I've been thinking a lot about children's self image and body image lately. Mainly because I spend a lot of time thinking about how cute my baby is, and we spend a lot of time with my female friends who always remark on how cute he is, what a heartbreaker he'll be, etc. I worry that he's already learning to charm people with his looks, and learning to expect people to react to him in a certain way because of his looks.

I know it probably sounds insane that I would even think about something like this. But I remember a radio show once where they were talking about good looking politicians - John Edwards in particular - and how they've always been handsome, and probably always got away with murder because of it. It really made me think about how early we imprint on our kids the importance of their physical appearance. Cute babies and children are going to be looked at more, smiled at more, picked up more, given more attention, and probably more bad behavior will be forgiven. It just goes to show how early these lines are drawn in human society.

It's also true that children who are "easy" are going to be complimented more, picked up more, smiled at more, etc. I remember the tremendous pressure put on me as a child actor to be "outgoing" and "personable" at auditions so I would get the job; in the end it never mattered how good an actress I was; it was only about my appearance and how friendly and mature I was, when I was just a shy kid in a sea of much prettier little girls.

My time with the family this week involved a lot of comparison between my baby and my half-sister's son when he was a newborn, and how funny looking he was and how my half-sister worried her father didn't love him because the baby's appearance was so off putting. For the record he grew up to be super cute. But it does make me wonder why every discussion about babies tends to focus on their cuteness or lack thereof. Is it because we don't really know them yet? Because at this stage, with no talking or moving around, they don't have much personality yet?

I don't think there's much you can do about this particular phenomenon; it's just the way the world works. Thank goodness we all have the option of developing talents and a personality even if we're not blessed with conventional good looks. And thank goodness all mommas think their babies are beautiful even if they're not.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

IUI Anniversary

I've been pretty lousy about remarking on various anniversaries - my 300th post, etc - but the anniversary of the day my son was conceived is a date that will be burned in my head forever. I've made many impulsive leaps of faith in my life, with mixed results. Moving to LA - good. Buying real estate in New Orleans five days before Katrina - bad. Starting a dance camp - good. Loaning my ex $700 to fix his car - bad. But definitely doing my third IUI right after a chemical pregnancy - best leap ever!

It's funny to think that had I waited I may never have had a baby at all - or certainly would have had a very different baby. Not a Bumpus, but someone else who would have been sort of like him, but not.

I remember those days of hope and fantasy, the "trying" days. When nobody knew what I was up to, and my life revolved around prenatals and pee sticks and worry about upcoming trips and events and how I would do it all while pregnant or with a baby. So far it's all worked out. He didn't turn out to be a preemie nor special needs, and my birth experience left me only psychologically scarred, not physically.

At the dance event where I sang last weekend I was watching the young girls dance and was surprised I didn't feel my usual mild pangs of jealousy over how pretty and young and in shape they are, what excellent dancers, and how full of adventure their lives are. Because I'm just not in the same category as these people; we can't even be compared side by side anymore; I've crossed over, and there's no going back. These are girls, and I'm a mother. I pushed a human being out of my body. And I'll be forever changed by the experience. A year ago today that journey officially began.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Rolling over

There's so much to post about this last week. But I didn't want to forget the most important milestone, which is Bumpus rolled over! He did it once when we were hanging out on a blanket on an incline, so I thought it was a fluke. But then he did it again while on my cousin's floor, and again while on the bathroom floor of my b&b (with no swings or bouncy chairs, he spent a lot of time on the floor). For the record he rolled back to front. Very exciting!

The trip was good. As noted I was wracked with anxiety for certain aspects of it; leaving him with a stranger when I sang, flying, various questionable driving situations. But he charmed the relatives with his unbearable cuteness, and I was interested to see his interaction with the male relatives. He's so used to my feminine softness - not scratchy faces, booming voices, strong arms, and rough-and-tumble play. And he does need all of those things. As much as I like to brush it off as unimportant, young Robert does need to learn maleness, and like it or not that just can't come from me.

Another thing that can't - or rather, shouldn't, come from me, is another baby. Much of this trip was so logistically difficult - flying, in particular sitting in this tiny tin can-like spot with a squirming, screaming baby, and your drink, peanuts, Hooter Hiders, blankets, diapers and tiny socks flying everywhere, while the baby simultaneously spits up, poops, and pees all over your pants, and he keeps wrenching off the Hooter Hiders so you flash your neighbors with your poor irritated nipple...then imagine throwing a toddler into this mix! It would be just impossible. So I would have to just not travel, not sing and not see the relatives for some five to seven years. Is that really in our best interests? I'm beginning to think not.

The first night in our dorm room in Boston I looked down at the baby in his swaddle and thought what a family unit we are. We're a team. And more importantly, he is the most important relationship of my life, and I'm his. Even though he won't remember any of this, it's the beginning of our adventures together.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Boston if you please

I'm in a charming bed and breakfast in Winthrop, Mass, where my cousin, a mechanic for Jet Blue at Logan, lives. Now comes part II of my trip, Introducing Bobby to His Family.

The gig part of the trip ended better than it began. The second night singing Bumpus slept straight through, thank goodness; we worked out the obligatory first night sound system issues, and I even got to dance with a guy I won a dance contest with seven years ago. Sleep was elusive - the room was FREEZING cold. Bumpus was ok because he was in a fleece swaddle (and is his own space heater anyway), but I had nothing but my sleep bra and froze my butt off, with resultant little sleep. After much confusion and stress on my part we arranged rides to the airport (the band members) and a ride to the b&b (me). Had a quick dinner at the cousin's house with my sister who flew in from NY, Bumpus was fussing and screaming the whole time, not at all like him and not a great first impression. The only thing I could think was he was just plain over it. As soon as we were back at the b&b he was cooing and happy. Go figure!

I so want him to be adorable and loved by the family members. I don't know why I can't wrap my brain around the fact that they are his family and will love him whether he screams or not - I don't know why I feel this pressure for him to be "good" when he may just plain not feel like it. He's just a baby. And I'm sure he's picking up on my anxiety and stress. Well. Tomorrow is a new day, and this is the fun part - bar b qs and fireworks and boating and good times. It's rare - unheard of, actually - for me to have a good time on the 4th of July. Last year I'd just had the miscarriage and my car was smashed to bits by a hit and run driver. Remember that? I'd say this year's 4th is already a huge improvement!

Here are some random pics from the last few days. Bumpus has spent a lot of time on floors lately, with no swings or bouncy chairs present!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Working mom

It's not often I feel like a working mom (because for all intents and purposes, I don't technically "work"), but I am definitely feeling it this weekend. Just the stress of having to leave your baby in someone else's care while you go and be professional, when you'd really feel so much better if you could just strap the baby to your body. Alas, this isn't always possible.

So last night I strapped the baby onto a random 16-year-old girl for four hours while I sang. It wasn't quite as seamless as the previous Saturday. When I checked on him at the second band break he was screaming his head off, so I awkwardly nursed him in my breastfeeding friendly vintage dress. On the third he was screaming again. The girl didn't seem phased by it, but it certainly didn't feel good for me. I had hoped he would just sleep, but no. Now I'm all worried about tonight...the dress I brought is not at all breastfeeding friendly, and it's a later night (goes until 2:00 AM). And we also have to discuss what I'm paying her. I hope it's not more than $60 because that's all I got.

Stuff like this is just a bit of a logistical nightmare. I can't bring a pump, and there's nowhere to store breast milk nor time to pump, so I have to make myself available for feeding, and my clothing doesn't really suit that purpose, and there's also no good place to do it nor time. And really, he should be fine not eating for four hours - he does it at home all the time. But I've come to realize there are more reasons than being hungry for wanting to nurse - needing to poop is one, and another is needing comfort. So it could have been any number of things last night.

Still and all, this is temporary - by the time the event rolls around he'll be a month older, and when the DC trip happens he'll be a month older still, and the next time the band travels (if we do at all) it probably won't be until next summer and I doubt I'll be breastfeeding then. So as stressful as this has been, it really is a one-time thing.

Went down to the beach yesterday. Boy how I miss the Atlantic Ocean! Sigh.