Monday, September 30, 2013

...aaaand we're back

Thank God, a normal night of sleep for B last night. So maybe the bad night was all just about his being overstimulated all day and then going to bed late - although if that was the case, why did he sleep so well during the event...? Well, never mind. I won't question it! 

I have been trying to ask B questions in the hope that he'll answer yeah or no - but he doesn't seem to get it. I know this might end up being a lengthy process, encouraging B to talk. Somehow I don't think our parents or grandparents ever did this. But what do I know? Maybe they did.

Despite not having the balls to pull the trigger and start the room renovation, I have been making lots of plans for B's room. I want to refinish the rusted Radio Flyer a friend gave me for Christmas and put books in it; I also impulsively bought a cheap toy chest on eBay so there's somewhere to put his "downstairs toys". I don't know if he'll even like being in that room - what if he just screams to get out?? What if he hates sleeping in there? What if I did all of this for nothing? 

Well, it won't be for nothing, because at least eventually he will like his own room. And I know that it's good for him to be out of my room whether he knows it or not. Something tells me as long as he has toys he'll be totally fine. He may even be just old enough to really enjoy a space that's all his.

There was a thread today on my WTE board of second timers having anxiety about giving birth again. I'm glad I'm not alone in this. I have this distinct memory of walking the dog heavily pregnant and thinking how much harder it would be to be going for it a second time, knowing what to expect, rather than being a first timer and being able to convince yourself that it won't be that bad, that it'll probably be quicker and easier than you think. And here I am. And I do have a great deal of anxiety about the birth as I've endlessly written about. I wish I could get zen about it and feel positive - I mean, I have no reason to think I'll have a bad experience and every reason to think it'll be quicker/easier this time. Maybe as I get closer it'll be easier to calm my mind and get a positive mantra going. Right now, though, I'm really struggling.

Here is a picture of the toy chest I bought:

Sunday, September 29, 2013


Today it dawned on me that B having his own room serves more than just the purpose of his having a quiet place to sleep - it can also be a safe place for him to play. Right now I have to follow him around the house for him to have free reign around here, and he tears the place apart and I have to spend ages cleaning up after him, which is utterly exhausting. We have the upstairs, but it's very limiting in that once we're up there, we're up - I can't leave him up there while I pop down to grab something to eat or go to the bathroom. It would be much more convenient to have him have a safe place to play where I can go cook, work, clean, etc. I just need to get some kind of gate so I can have the door open but he still can't get out. I am absolutely dreading the day he can no longer hang out in the playpen, and this may be the solution.

We had a rough weekend. I visited a friend on the west side for lunch on Friday and got caught in 2 1/2 hour traffic on the way home; even the radio said they'd "never seen the 110 look like this". Normally it wouldn't matter - B could catch a nap and I could zone out and take a break from parenting. But for some reason, B wasn't having it - screamed the entire way, inconsolably. By the time we got home I was exhausted and frazzled; I just held B for a long time because he was so worked up. Saturday I passed on three things I really wanted to do because I was invited to an old time dancer's house (the widow of the guy who died shortly before B was born). I wasn't sure about bringing B but in the end decided everyone would be bummed not to see him. And he did charm everyone...but boy, was it tiring! We were there for four hours and I had to just chase him around the whole time, pulling breakables out of his hands and making sure he didn't wreck anything. I was completely worn out when we got home; I shuffled him to bed at 8:30, an hour and a half after his usual bedtime, thinking "he'll sleep hard tonight!" Two hours later he woke up screaming fit to beat Jesus. He never does that, so I went in to help him lie down and sleep again; no go. I turned on the light and picked him up and rocked him; he clung to me. But still wouldn't be comforted. I gave him some Tylenol thinking maybe he was teething; he does have several teeth coming in at once right now. He eagerly sucked it down and wouldn't let go of the plastic syringe, so I let him keep chewing on that, and gave him his toothbrush also to munch on. I got him to go back to sleep at that point...only to have him wake up several more times. I finally just had to let him cry it out - after about five minutes of screaming he settled down and slept. But it was awful - we haven't had a night like that since he was itty bitty. And now I'm wondering how many more nights are going to be like tonight going to be like that? And what, exactly, is the problem? Is he in physical pain? Is he just having some kind of sleep regression and I need to stick to my guns and insist he go back to sleep? It's agonizing making that call. Several times last night I wondered if he should be taken to the ER. Oh, it's just awful.

It's not surprising that these days I loll around in bed as long as I can - I just can't get up the energy to start the day. It's the only time I have a moment to myself where I don't have to be "on". I'm just so tired all the time and have so many things hanging over my head - still no resolution on my hotel bill, now my Internet isn't working and I can't figure out how to fix it and I can't use my computer to get any work done, and I'm facing weeks of my house being a construction zone. I know these problems are minuscule compared to what some people are enduring right now, but I just feel exhausted and overwhelmed.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Tests and evaluations

Yesterday was B's 18 month checkup. As always they had me fill out a lengthy questionnaire before the appointment, and as always I found myself lying on a few questions in order to look like a more responsible parent than I actually am. When he was littler I would lie about co-sleeping, knowing it was frowned upon; now I lie about little things that are related to how lazy I am in general and not concerned about germs. But I was honest when I answered "no" to his being able to use at least five words. 

Once in the doctor's office I mentioned that B is not talking. At all. Well, in the last week he has started to say, "no" and "yeah", but interchangeably; I think they're just sounds to him, he doesn't seem to know what they mean. To me that's not "talking". He does not name things, although I have at least taught him where his nose is and his belly is, and most of the time he can point these out. He presents his feet when I ask him if it's time to put his shoes on, and seems to understand quite a bit, just hasn't taken that leap to actually saying words. The pediatrician said to work with him and if things are the same in two to three months, have him evaluated. Which was pretty much what I had been thinking - I'm not too concerned at the moment, but don't want to be neglectful, either. In my heart I feel like he's working up to it and will get there - but we'll see. A lot of it might very well be his environment, ie, me. A friend of mine pointed out that since I don't live with another adult, he doesn't hear conversation very often, at least not as much as a baby who lives with two or more people. Also, I'm very much in the habit of speaking for him (as in, asking him a question and then answering it), or just not expecting him to understand or be capable of things he can probably do, like get me things when asked or put things away. I need to start treating him like a child, not a baby, and have the expectation that he is capable. So I have been asking him questions and waiting for an answer, and if he does answer yes or no, following through with that so he understands what happens when he says yes or no. I know this may sound very obvious to some of you, but for me it's just a question of breaking old habits. For so long he's just been a little baby who had to bend to my will - now we're having lunch, take this drink, put these clothes on. Now I need to start presenting choices and listening to his opinion. It's a whole new world. 

Also at the doctor's office I sheepishly admitted that no, I have not been feeding him at least two portions of red meat a week. The doctor said in that case he'd like to do a blood draw for iron levels, which I agreed to because I figured I should have that information, too, to make sure our diet isn't harming him. Well, I didn't realize just how brutal drawing blood from a toddler would be. It was that newborn heel prick thing all over again - holding down your screaming child for probably 10-15 minutes while a nurse digs mercilessly in one arm, then another, with a needle. It was awful. And as of right now I have some results but not the iron levels. I don't know how long it'll take but I'm dreading the results. More guilt headed my way I'm sure.

I took myself off the B6 and Unisom regimen a couple of nights ago to see if I could stop now. I think I might continue a little longer. I've been waking up drenched in sweat and then freezing cold to the point of teeth chattering all night both nights, and today have been pretty nauseated. Back on the drugs. 

I'm so pleased I don't have another Kaiser appointment until end of October. I can't shake the feeling that these are the salad days - those weeks pre-week 20, before all the problems start happening. The gestational diabetes, the swelling, the protein in the urine, the searing heartburn, the insomnia, the general discomfort and incapacity. I keep thinking of Bed Rest friend who was under the impression that she was having the perfect, healthy pregnancy until her 20 week check up where they discovered he cervix had shortened dramatically and she was then and there put on hospital bed rest for the rest of her pregnancy. Things can turn on a dime like that so easily. As with everything you just have to cross your fingers and hope it doesn't happen to you. I'm somewhat bolstered by the fact that at sixteen weeks everything still looks good for me...but they did last time, too, so that kind of means nothing. Ugh. 

In other news, Mom Guru gave me several numbers for doulas. I'm excited to get to interviewing some of these ladies. I think settling on one will do a lot to ease my general anxiety.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

First second tri check up

I had my (almost) sixteen week appointment today. It was very in and out, no fuss, no muss. Weight, pee, blood pressure, Doppler, ultrasound. Did my final blood draw for the NT scan. The only useful bit was I asked if I would be required to do those pesky NSTs at the end of the pregnancy even if I was having no problems - and the midwife said yes, most likely. Due to my age, of course. This kind of bums me out, considering the expense ($40 a pop) and possibly having to find something to do with B, which will be even more expensive. So I'm back to that odd place of being kind of grateful that we get such extensive care in this country (the rate of ultrasounds and any monitoring in other countries is very low, I've anecdotally noticed), and being resentful of all the hassle and expense which is almost entirely over nothing. No protein in my urine today, hooray! Was there any this early last time...? I seem to remember that being largely a third trimester issue.

I am cooking dinner for potentially eight of my book club gals tomorrow. I'm making this black bean/tortilla casserole that I've made before (it's relatively easy and a sure crowd pleaser, as most things involving tortillas and cheese tend to be), trying my hand at a sweet corn cake as a side, and making my favorite blackberry upside down cake for "afters". The sheer volume of food for that amount of people is mind blowing - how on earth do large families cope? More importantly, how do they pay for it???

B is now in the habit of saying "yeah" and "no" and "ow" indiscriminately - although he seems to grasp that no and ow are for times when he's not happy about something, most of the time I think he just likes how the words feel; the meaning is incidental. I still long for the day when we can actually communicate - although then I guess I have to cope with opinions, such as "you look ugly today." Most friends of mine with older kids tend to glaze over when I say I can't wait for him to talk - "believe me, you can wait," they say, picking dried food off their shirts. 

Thinking about my house being a construction zone for much of October fills me with dread. As does adding to my already considerable debt. But again and again I come back to the fact that B must have his own room, and trying to do this with a new baby in the house would be insane. So, it begins.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Signing off

Today I did The Thing that I've thought about for ages, and that gave me quite a bit of unrest. I got the bill for the next three months of sperm storage and instead of writing out a check, ticked the box that says I no longer wish to store these vials and instead am releasing them back to the facility. I tried to take a picture of this, but it didn't come out looking like anything, so no memorial of this moment!

My dream was to be able to sign off on the remaining vial(s) while having a healthy pregnancy under my belt, and I have achieved this dream. And that's something to sit with for a minute, right there. I could have given them up after coming to the conclusion that one child was best for me. I could have given them up, heartbroken, after a loss, thinking I wouldn't want to try again. I could have had to make this decision months ago when the pregnancy was so new anything could have happened. But no. I get to sign off happily and with no reservations, with a solid pregnancy. Naturally the old fatalist in me thinks, "now this is when something will go wrong," but I'm going to chase those thoughts away, because whether something goes wrong now or not, it certainly won't be because I signed my name to a piece of paper today. 

In other news, we're having sleep problems and food problems. It may be related to MY general laziness and crappy post-event schedule, but B rarely wants to eat lunch; I can't seem to find anything he doesn't want to just play with. Dinners have been hard, too...until tonight, when I made him his favorite curry which he gobbled up. He's woken about three nights since the event crying hysterically; I tried to pull him into my bed last night but he almost took a header off the side so I put him back in the pack-n-play, which resulted in more crying, but just for a couple of minutes. I think if this happens again I'll try to just comfort him while keeping him in the p-n-p; it's safer. He is cutting lots of teeth all at once right now so he's probably pretty uncomfortable, poor thing.

I had my handyman over for an estimate on building a room for B; it came in right where I thought. It could take up to three weeks(!) which doesn't thrill me, but again reminds me why I must do this now rather than wait until a) I'm bigger and feel like crap, or b) have a screaming newborn. As much as I'd love to wait I feel like I must do this now. It really is the only good time, and B definitely has to have his own room at some point. Honestly the thought of not having him at arm's length gives me tremendous anxiety - the very idea of him sleeping in an entirely different room! It's going to be an adjustment for both of us. But it's an important rite of passage so I need to just bite the bullet and do it. It will be the best thing, in the long run. 

Appointment tomorrow, plus second blood draw for the NT scan. It's been twelve days since the first draw; they said if there were any concerns I would have heard within eight to ten business days. Could it be I've survived the next of the hurdles - the genetic testing? Next up - third trimester, and all the fun things that start developing there, and of course, The Birth. I've had a lot of fears lately, probably because I've been watching Call the Midwife. Luckily I finished season two last night so I can put all of that aside for a little while. No need to get all worked up now - there's plenty of time to get worked up later-!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Weekend wrap up

It was an odd one. It started with a bizarre encounter with a very disturbed young man at my favorite Silverlake park. He was a slight teenager who was loitering around suspiciously, who I had noticed was watching a girl work out a little too closely. It's funny, whenever I have a weird episode with someone on the street, I always notice them being inappropriate before they even get to me. I remember as a kid my mother pulling me away from a man at the beach in a flesh colored Speedo standing in the waves, saying, "that man looks like he's about to do something unpleasant." So this kid makes a bee line for me, where I am sitting in the grass next to my stroller a good distance away from Bumpus who is wandering near some bushes.

"Do you have the time?" he asked.

"Ummm...twelve thirty," I responded.

"Is that your son?"


"What's your name?" that man is about to do something unpleasant...


"My name's Mike," and he leans in way too close and kisses my hand. I dart up and say, "well, time to go!" and immediately shove the stroller over to where B is and don't leave his side again. Ugh! Creeps! Talk about rapist-in-training. The guy lingers around for a bit looking for another woman to harass and I keep my eyes glued to him, until he leaves the park. It kind of makes me not want to go there anymore, even though there were plenty of people around and nothing could have happened to me. The paranoiac in me wonders if he followed me home. And now my Internet has crapped out which leaves me with the side effect of no burglar alarm tonight. Sleep tight!

In other news, went to a very kid-friendly baby shower today, in which a gaggle of toddlers, babies, and kids laid ruin to this nice family's house. Oh, the mouthed toys, the crumbs smashed into carpets, the shoes on couches - the horror! It makes me sad that I am too uptight to probably ever be able to have large groups of kids over at this house...but this also means I get to enjoy an adult home with nice things in it and don't have to live in a padded romper room like most of my friends. Of course, I say that now.

Took B into the bouncy house. He found it horrifying. He clung to me until I convinced him it was ok to give it a little bounce. I can see how scary this must be to one who's just getting his bearings on hard ground and now we've gone and changed all the rules on him. Later I observed an older girl ripping chalk out of his hands and pushing him away from toys she was playing with. Sigh. I'm kind of accepting that this is a big part of having kids - watching other, bigger kids be mean to your kid, and just having to deal with it. On the bright side, he didn't seem to care. He was more interested in kicking the soccer ball around. He is 1/4 Brazilian after all.

Friday, September 20, 2013

15 weeks

I've been a bit chastened by the news of a fellow blogger losing her twin boys at 20 weeks, a few years (and a lot of struggles) after losing a baby boy at the same point in the pregnancy. I could say how lucky I feel to have a healthy child and another on the way - and I do. I never take either of them for granted, believe me. But it doesn't feel right to say that right now, so I will just say what we all know is true - that life totally sucks sometimes, and some people just can't seem to catch a fucking break. And I hate it and it's so unfair. And one of the main disadvantages of being an atheist at times like this is there's no comfort - all you can do is offer condolences to the person suffering and try to chase away fears that you might have that experience, too. Sometimes faith in a bigger plan or some kind of reward after we die would feel really good, you know? Reality is a bitch. 

So, on that upbeat note, I was asked to post my pickle recipe. I'm a little reluctant to because I tried one a few nights ago and they're not that great. I think I overcooked them. They are very limp and not crunchy and taste kind of "old", like that last pickle swimming in questionable liquid at the back of your grandmother's fridge. Perhaps if I didn't do the hot water bath at all and just let them soak in the brine, or did it a few minutes less. I'll figure it out. 

In other news, I couldn't be more relieved that our heat wave is over. I used to love the heat...but now it's just a huge pain in the ass. It means hot, cranky kid, limited options as far as activities, and hundreds in A/C bills. Personally I'm psyched to get started with the festive season - fires in the fireplace, baking, Halloween, soups for lunch, Christmas decorating. 

I feel decent. I may even be experiencing some early flutters - that sudden "kick" feeling that is nothing like digestive movement. That was always my favorite thing about pregnancy, the movement part. Still checking the heartbeat every day. It's easy to find at this stage. I am eager to make a big announcement but still need to wait until I can tell my bandleader & his wife, and I won't see them for two more weeks - and then it's just ten days until the gender scan, so I may just wait until I have all of the information. It will be fun to announce the baby by name, you know?

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Had a crazy incongruous day, first attending a 1920s festival in full vintage garb (both of us), then running home to rip off my dress and throw on a one-shoulder stretchy top to go see Earth, Wind and Fire at the Hollywood Bowl. Here are pics of the 20s festival:

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Weight

I feel as though a great weight has been lifted, just thinking about borrowing the money to pay my credit card and thus leaving my bank account intact. Ahhh! I feel like I can breathe again.

After a couple of weeks (well, months, really, if I'm honest with myself) of not really living life, I decided to get out and do the kind of things I used to do before the event completely took over. I did my first Silverlake reservoir walk since June (I've been too exhausted/busy/nauseated/it's been too hot to deal with it this summer), then got B and I into the hot tub (set to 95 degrees) when we got home. At first he was terrified and clung to me like a little monkey (which I actually enjoy - he's usually too squirmy these days to want much snuggle time with me), but it wasn't long before he was on his own playing with my flip flops and confidently diving into my arms over open water. I am sort of hoping he'll just magically figure out how to swim without any formal (read: expensive) training. It could happen, if I get him in the water often enough and he gets a feel for it.

Then I put him down for a nap and dove into one of my favorite escapist projects - making food from scratch that you could easily buy at the store. I finally put to work the pickling supplies I bought a year ago and made five large jars of dill pickles. I used Japanese cucumbers because they were the only ones available; I haven't made pickles in over twenty years so I have no idea if I missed some important step or just missed the mark with the ingredients, etc. But it was my fantasy when I was pregnant with B to be the kind of mom that makes fresh bread and cans preserves and pickles and has a new baked treat on the table for the kids when they come home from school, and I'm determined to follow through with that. My memory tells me pickles are pretty hard to screw up. There's no "gel stage", no timing, no taking of temperatures. Most people don't even bother with a hot water bath, as I did. So I think they'll be pretty great. 

It felt good to embrace life and forget my troubles for the day. In the never ending saga of "what to do about our sleeping arrangements", I have come up with yet another potential idea for how to create a bedroom for B. I may have my handyman over for an estimate. Can't hurt to get an estimate, right? Few things would give me more pleasure than arranging and decorating a real boy's room for B to be a toddler in. I have a toddler bed and furniture set all picked out from IKEA. I can't wait to see him in his big boy bed covered by the onesie blanket his auntie made him, while I read him a story. Good times ahead. Good times.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The rent is too damn high

I haven't written all week because, frankly, I've been too depressed. And the kind of depressed that I don't even feel like talking (or blogging) about, which you know means it's BAD. Why am I depressed? Because the rent's too damn high. 

Yes, I am completely overcome by money worries, to the point of utter paralysis. I need some relief. And last night I think I came up with a temporary solution. The sad thing is it solves nothing - in fact, puts me in a worse position than I'm in now. But it'll make me FEEL better. And we all know economics is largely about feelings - consumer confidence, panics on Wall Street. So I've decided to pay this month's $13,000 credit card bill with my business line of credit that has a very low interest rate, retaining my existing money in the bank for living expenses and hospital bills, and just slowly pay down the line of credit over time, as I've done twice before. Because the rent's too damn high.

I've discovered I just don't have the guts to live debt free but with an empty bank account. It's causing me so much stress I can't even function. Today I nearly had a heart attack when I realized I had to shell out for a $9 bottle of olive oil. This is not good. 

So, I go heavily into debt. So I rack up interest. I just have to pretend it's part of my monthly bills, the way people do with their school loans (I have none), or the way I currently do with the $100,000 I owe because of my New Orleans debacle (having bought an investment property there days before Katrina struck). It's easier to forget about debt and pay it down slowly than it is to watch your bank account dwindle to nothing knowing income isn't coming for months.

So, this all was an interesting psychological experiment, and one I'll remember for the future. There are times when aggressively paying down debt doesn't make sense - not when it leaves you utterly broke. Not when the rent's too damn high. 

I still have boxes piled in my dining room from the event. I can't bring myself to go through them and file everything away, ready for the new year, because there are too many loose threads dangling still. Negotiations continue with the hotel. I still owe some money to various people. People still haven't cashed their checks, giving the illusion that I have more money than I actually do. Nothing is completed; everything is still dragging on. I feel very unsettled. 

14 weeks today. 

Monday, September 9, 2013


Today I did something I've never had to do before. I called up the hotel where my event was held and begged them to give me a break on my bill.

I am a terrible bargainer. Haggling has always been one of my least favorite things about international travel. So it's not surprising that for years I've had this shitty deal in my contract with them where I only get 25 staff rooms at a reduced rate whereas I usually book about 100 or more (to be clear, these are rooms for my staff that I pay for). Up until now this hasn't mattered because my old contact person would just automatically discount all of my rooms as a courtesy to me. I didn't know she was even doing this until she left the hotel last year and warned me that this would stop. I knew the difference would be several thousand dollars - but remember, I expected to have made so much money that it wouldn't really matter. Well, it turns out that bump up from my average bill of about $4,000-$5,000 to this year's whopping $9,000 does make a difference. It means the difference between having to borrow $4000 to make it to February, and start my fiscal year already behind and in debt, or not.

So I threw myself on the mercy of the higher ups and called today to beg for a discount not just for this year but for all years going forward. Naturally the guy I talked to said he'd have to take it to his higher ups, so I have no idea what the result will be. It may be that this year is a wash but in the future I can get a better deal amended to my contracts. But I felt like I had to at least try. That's a huge amount of money, and even if they just give me some small token like $500 or $1000 off, every little bit helps.

I'm beginning to question the wisdom of paying down all my debt and leaving myself penniless. Sure, it makes sense on paper - no running up of interest. But the psychological impact of having literally no money, and knowing I'm going to have to jeopardize next year by going into debt just to make it, is causing me a huge amount of stress. Part of me wishes I had put myself on a long, conservative payback plan for that sewer bill and left myself with money to live on. But again, I'd have debt hanging over my head, which I hate, and hundreds, even thousands, in interest. Still, I'm starting to think being dead broke is kind of worse. Every little thing - the $12 water filter I had to buy for my water jug, the $50 I just spent on gas, the presents I had to buy for all the people I know with late August birthdays - all of it is like a knife in my heart. I just keep thinking about all the money I'm going to have to borrow just to live for two months and how hard it's going to be to pay all that back. It's kind of like weight gain - you can put on 20 pounds easily in a few weeks of binge eating, but taking it off takes months of torturous exercise and dieting. It's easy to get into but hard to get out. 

I keep getting mad at myself for getting into this position, but then I remember that had I not had that sewer line bill I'd have more than enough money to live on and pay any hospital bill that comes my way and probably even build a room for B. So yes, I probably agreed to a little too much for my event this year - but it would have been ok had I not had that home repair emergency. 

I spent much of last night ruminating about how to jerry rig a room for B on little or no budget - accordion doors from Home Depot; curtains; moving myself out to the nursery so he can have my quiet, private room. But in the end, you know what? I may not do anything at all. I may just have all three of us sleep in my bedroom for a while. I really don't want to move all my crap into the nursery/living room where I'm exposed to the whole house, and unless that area can be made soundproof (ie, real walls and a closing door), there's no reason to put B in there because he'll just be woken up by the TV or the phone or front door anyway. If it turns out the new baby cries a lot and wakes B up I can just camp us out on the couch until he doesn't anymore. B mostly just whimpered quietly until I woke up and fed him (except for a few all-night screamers, which as noted can be solved by whisking us off to the living room couch which is very sleep able). So right now I am thinking "do nothing" may be the solution to my housing needs.

In other news, horribly nauseated today. I ran out of Unisom last night so only took the B6. Coincidence? I think not.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Thru and Thru

I've had this Rolling Stones song in my head a lot the last few days. It's because HBO just ran the Sopranos episode that has it as the closing theme (Sopranos fans - you know the one!), an episode that especially focuses on sadness, as Dr. Melfi says to Tony, "I sense sorrow coming from you." It's not that I'm sad. But I've been having a lot of profound thoughts lately, ever since that whole Spectacular Now thing a few weeks ago. It's kind of like the floodgates opened in seeing that movie, and haven't really closed yet. Also pregnancy hormones always make me super weepy, and the weeks around my event always push me into high emotionality. So it's all of these things that found me sobbing in my glider last night.

On a whim I watched a documentary called "The Other F Word", about punk rockers becoming dads (the other F word being "father"). I thought, "oh, this will be fun!" And it was fun to watch. But oh my God, so much more than that! If ever there were a movie that spoke to exactly how I've been feeling about parenthood lately - oh my God! Basically it follows aging punkers from bands like Blink 182, Pennywise, the Adolescents, Fear, US Bombs, etc, and interviews them and their experiences being dads. Also dads still being rock stars on the road, and how they try to reconcile that lifestyle to family life. It was fascinating, but of course the part that touched me the most was when these men talked about their own shitty, broken childhoods, and how becoming dads themselves was their chance to do it right, to stand up and be the present, loving dads they never got to have. I freaking love these guys! Their young lives were so similar to mine - probably a very familiar 1980's story, really; little to no parental involvement, left to our own devices wandering the streets and getting into trouble in bad company. A lot of my friends, the people closest to me, lived this life. And it was wild and exciting and free - but also sad. We only lived like that because nobody cared about us, and we carry those scars to this day. 

And now we're parents and we look at our innocent children's faces and we find it incomprehensible that anyone would want to abandon that child, or not pay child support for that child, or in any way not make that child a priority at all times. What was going on in the 70s and 80s? Was there just a wave of narcissism that swept through our parents' bedrooms at night and carried away our normal, loving parents and replaced them with these selfish pods? What is the difference between us and them, and how are some of us able to overcome and do better, while others are not? 

I was just delighted by the attitudes of these hard core dads. There's nothing more charming to me than a guy with a tattoo on his forehead and screws in his neck saying, "my kids are the most important thing in my life." I love it. I FUCKING LOVE IT. And I love these guys. God bless them. Really.

I don't like to get too mushy about the transformative nature of parenthood, because to me, for women, this is well-trodden territory. But I guess there's something about hearing dads say this that kind of reminds me how true it is. And you know, seeing great dads like that doesn't make me sad for myself, or for B who doesn't have that. It just makes me happy that people like that exist in the world. And that B can one day be a great dad even though, like these guys, he never had one. Maybe there is hope for us after all.

Friday, September 6, 2013

NT Scan

Today I had the NT Scan. I started to get nervous a few hours before. It's hard not to, when it's so early and you know almost nothing about this little person - not even their gender, much less their general health. So many things can still be, can still go, wrong. But as mentioned before, I just have a really good feeling about it.

Sure enough the technician said based on measurements alone, I have a perfect, healthy baby. My blood work of course is the other part of the equation. I didn't realize there's a second blood draw in three weeks. I don't believe I did this last time - which is probably why I got this random call from the genetics dept asking if I was still a Kaiser member and why I hadn't come back in to see them (obviously nobody told me - or I misunderstood - that there was another blood draw involved). But I got to see the little fluttering heart, the brain, the stomach, the bone structure. It's pretty fascinating. The baby was "very active". It's so odd when I still feel nothing. I try to remember what it was like to feel B shifting about in there, but it's such a vague memory. 

I am definitely "feeling it", though, just in the sense that I always have this "full" feeling like I just ate a huge meal and can't button my pants, and any abrupt movements, particularly standing up quickly, causes little shoots of pain in my abdomen. It's in there. It's definitely in there.

It's hard not to fixate on the last few weeks of the pregnancy and worry about the birth...largely, these days, about just how much this birth is going to cost me. I hate that I live in a country where I even have to consider things like that, but yes, the thought of being slammed with another unexpected $7000 hospital bill terrifies me. I'm also afraid of being induced again, having an emergency c- section that I then have to recover from, or having a normal labor that ends up totally sucking anyway. Is there ever a happy ending to these stories? Are women ever pleased with their birth experience? I think it does happen, but it's rare. I keep telling myself no matter what it's going to be VERY unpleasant. It's labor. It's no walk in the park. I'd rather be a realist than just assume I'm going to have this awesome empowering experience this time after last time's three day torture fest. I'd rather be pleasantly surprised than wickedly disappointed. The one thing for sure is I will never, ever ever, for realz this time, have to do it again. And that's pretty awesome.

Here's a pic of the nubs from today's scan:

Thursday, September 5, 2013

It's a Wrap

All three of us survived The Big Weekend. Wow. How to even sum it up? It went well. In fact, everyone said it was the best one ever, and I am inclined to agree. The energy was amazing, I had the most/highest level of competitors ever, and it all went off without a hitch. Apart from the first long day there where I *kind of* felt like jumping off a cliff, the rest of the time I did not - contrast that with years ago when I felt like jumping off a cliff from beginning to end and then suffered a massive depression for weeks afterwards, I think you can say I've come a long way! I also have come up with a couple of ways to lessen some of the stress early on - cut off registration a day early so I have a day to relax and pack and do last minute paperwork rather than having to do all of that at 2 AM the night before the event; and only allowing people to sign up for contests that are happening that day so I don't get a huge rush on opening day.

I'm a big believer in kaizen, the Japanese principle of continuous improvement. Every year I keep lists all weekend long of things to do better the following year - everything from moving bands to getting more dollar bills in change. I've got some good ones for next year. 

But mainly my job for next year is to cut the budget in ways people won't notice. Like not using international teachers, or cutting one of the late night bands in favor of a DJ, since the late nights always get interrupted by spontaneous dance contests anyway. As predicted, I WAY overspent this year. And despite my stellar numbers, I am positively destitute at the moment. It's a little frightening.

So, with property taxes coming up next month, I have just enough money to make it until about Christmas, and then I'm out. Which isn't horrible when you think I only have to make it until Feb 1st when registration opens again and we start fresh; but still, puts me in the hole several thousand $$$ just to stretch that one month, which is debt that will have to be paid back. And let's not even talk about hospital bills in March-!

Anyway. So I think I'm handling this news pretty well - to be honest, I'm way worse off than I anticipated. I'm trying not to be mad at myself for such bad budgeting (remember, had I not had that $12,000 sewer repair I'd be just fine right now), nor get too bummed that I'm worse off than I was in 2001 when half my attendees evaporated. This is the nature of small business - it's up, and it's down. The important thing is the event has a bright future, moving my dates to Labor Day was a huge help, and the buzz is terrific. I just need to get past this year and we'll be ok.

Now I just need my car, washing machine, plumbing, electric, and refrigerator to last one more year, to not have any surprise medical bills (still have no bill from B's emergency room visit last Feb and I am terrified), no audits, lawsuits, natural disasters, or anything else unforeseen in the next twelve months. That's asking a lot, I know. And life never goes that smoothly. But I'm just asking that just this year Murphy's Law goes easy on me.

At the moment I'm debt free. I won't stay that way, but I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts. I don't need anything, nor do I have any desire to shop for myself, since the children have filled that hole that used to make me want to compulsively shop. Baby #2 still has a heartbeat at 13 weeks, and my NT scan is tomorrow, so I will get some sense of the baby's general health. And I need pretty much nothing for the new baby. I'd love a room to be built for B, but hey - you can't get everything you want. We'll make it work.

Here are some pictures of the event. As you can see it's very costume oriented. B delighted everyone and became somewhat of a mascot. It's crazy to think he may run this thing one day.