Thursday, January 30, 2014

Our Pet Human (as she nears her 27th week) ...


The female body changes after pregnancy. Obviously. It sometimes feels like a car that has been in a massive wreck, left battered on the side of the road (leaking assorted fluids). The insurance company would call it totaled, but you choose to drive it anyway so they put it back together kind of. Now it makes a grunt-y chug when it starts and there's the clink of an extra bolt ping-ponging beneath the hood. You have to exert effort to keep the steering wheel pointed straight ahead. Your triceps feel bruised.

Everything hurts always. My back, my butt, my arms. The groaning is involuntary. It's a pained groan when I stand, it's celebratory when I collapse to a sit. My boobs are no longer half-assed speed bumps. They are massive milk jugs that I need to squash against my body when I run. And my hips. They are functioning at about 20 percent mobility.

Oddly enough, despite my broken bod, I've been rehearsing to be a part of this upcoming super public dance performance. We were practicing earlier this week and when we got to this triumphant fist-in-the-air power jump, my landing coincided with a quick little spurt -- another feature of my own personal mangled Ford Taurus.

"Oh!" I said, wide eyed, to my dance partner. "I just peed!"

The confession was a similar quick little spurt. It just shot out of my mouth. I suppose I could have not said anything. I could have finished the session and he would never know he was paired up with Ole Potty Pants.

I felt a little better when I remembered that dancers are very body-centric. It's their instrument. Where I might sit around and talk about sentences I'm reading or writing, they might talk about mangled toes. Plus, a man is never too young to learn that some post-preg bodies leak.

Whatever. We shook it off and continued practicing.

Less than five minutes later. Another power jump. I looked down just in time to see milk shooting out of my left breast. We're talking squirt gun squirts. I watched, horrified, as it slowed to raindrop sized drips. Three layers of clothes were saturated in a dark circle around my boob.

This, too, was noticed by my poor, poor partner who assured me that the floor had seen grosser.
I mumbled something, slipped into my sweater and coat and fled the scene.

A bit later I ran into JCrew. I whispered my story and she cackled. She pointed at my sweater.

"Is that wet, too?" she asked.
"NO!" I said. It's a sweater. There is no way the milk leaked through three layers and an entire sweater. I looked down.
"YES!" I said and immediately went home for a wardrobe change.

***

The PBG had her six-month appointment this week. We talked about solid foods and upright sitting. We showed off her first two teeth. We scheduled an appointment with an eye doctor to find out why her left eyelid is droopy, but until then:

"It gives her a bit of character," the pediatrician said.

She lost her shit when she got the shots and it was tricky to calm her. Chuck took half the baby supplies and went to arrange her next visit at the front desk while I started to re-dress her. She was still crying, so I started to sing:

"When you're sliding into first and you feel a juicy burst, diarrhea, Uh-Uh, diarreah, Uh-uh," I sang quietly. "When you're sliding into second and you need some disinfectant ..." and so on.

She stopped crying to listen and smiled and I sang and sang and sang, at least three full go-rounds and once using a more operatic voice. I fastened her into her car seat and we met up with Chuck in the lobby.

"Ugh," I said. "I hope the people in the next room couldn't hear me. I had to sing 'The Diarrhea Song' to calm her down."
"They could hear you," he said.
"..."
"We could hear you in the hall," he added, then showed me the face the nurse made.
I made him re-show me the face multiple times to see if it got less embarrassing.
"It's her favorite song," I said, justifying it.
He nodded. He knows the score.
"Maybe you should ask some other moms what they sing to their kids," he said.

***

I'm in a semi dark room with a baby asleep on a pillow on my lap and all of a sudden I realize this surface used to hold her entire body, but now her knees are bent over the edge and her feet are resting on the bed.

She's a giant. 

I can no longer imagine that at one point this body was oragami'ed into something that fit in my uterus. I can more easily imagine this body sprawled on a couch, head dangling off the edge, legs curled over the back, watching age inappropriate programming upside down. A Popsicle melting on the next cushion.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Almost bilked and definitely milked ...

Two unrelated things happened today:

1. Whenever I give Chuck money, it is in the form of a cashier's check. I do this for a lot of boring reasons that don't warrant precious internet space. This means that the money is immediately drawn from my account and I never have to think about it ever again. He can cash the check in five minutes or in five weeks. Snooze alarm.

Chuck never cashed a check from December 2012. It's been sitting on top of our refrigerator forevs. I'm all "Well, that's awesome that you can use a big check as a coaster for our penny jar, but baby needs diapers." So today he told me to take the check back to put back into my account.

Hurrah! Free money!

When I got to the bank, it was a big hassle. The teller was a newbie and when he asked his supervisor how to complete the transaction she sniffed mightily and told him the answer was in "The Book." He reluctantly grabbed a black binder and looked up at her. His supervisor was one of those severe people who always sound like she is telling you for the eighth time -- firmly, but she's going to stay calm -- to get your goddamn feet off the couch.

"Do you know where it is in The Book?" he asked.
"Check the table of contents," she said and he began flipping pages.
"That's what The Book is there for," she added, like a monster.

(Insert fiery thoughts about a newbie flipping through The Book while I'm running a quick lunch errand)

This became a three-employee problem and suddenly the Supervisor said to me, "We are going to credit your account *this* time, but never again. These checks expire after 90 days. You need to tell the recipient that it *needs* to be cashed within 90 days. Otherwise it's voided and neither of you have access to the money."

"You mean that YOU get the money if he doesn't cash the check in 90 days?" I said.
"Yes," she said, adding something about how she'd just gotten word from the accounting department.
"It's MY money," I said.
"It's OUR corporate account," she said, getting more terse.
"You don't just get to KEEP my money," I told her.
"It's coming from OUR corporate account," she said.

Here I made my mouth into a straight line, flexed the muscles in my neck and made the universal sign for "Cut." Her policy was stupid and I didn't want to hear another word. I looked for a comment card; She gave me one last bitch face. I considered yanking every cent out of that account, just as quickly realizing that it would have about as much impact as a mosquito sneeze.

I called her a bitch under my breath, just loud enough for the newbie to hear, but he didn't.

My account was credited and I left the bank and three minutes later I got a phone call and I knew it was that awful woman.

"Hi Christa, this is (fill in the blank with the same name as my baby) from the bank."

She sounded different now. Flirty, even.
The policy she had explained was wrong. No, when the check wasn't cashed after 90 days, it was voided because the money had already been rerouted back to my account.

"Haha!" she said. "I knew what I was telling you sounded wrong."
"Haha!" I said. "Yeah. Because what you told me was ridiculous."
"Haha!" she said. "I know! I couldn't believe that was true."
"Haha!" I didn't say. "Really? Because you sure sounded confident that all that rubbish was true. Like, you'd just get to keep hundreds of dollars because Chuck snoozed on the deposit. Haha."

Moral of the story: So many blergs.

2. I lifted up my sweater and tank top, fastened my special bra. I stuck the cone-shaped pieces through the boob holes and attached the filtration process. I plugged in the tubes and flipped the switch and the pump began swooshing.

I opened up Words With Friends to sneak in a few rounds while I milked.
Blah blah blah Scrabble.
My right leg started to feel warm and wet.
Dun-dah! I'd forgotten to attach a milk bag to catch my loot.
Wet milk crotch for hours.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Our Pet Human (at 25 weeks and some days) ...


This is what it must have been like for Elliott, faced with an alien who has learned to communicate from a Speak & Spell. 

Yesterday the PBG whinnied at me. 

I didn't notice at first. Then I recognized a certain warble to her growl. She sounded like the horse noise that is made by pushing the purple button on the dash of her exersauser. She did it again, an uncanny imitation. She coughed. It requires vocal distortion, a scratchiness she must think is worth it. 

I whinnied back. She beamed. 

So we did that for a while. Whinny. Whinny. Whinny. Whinny. Cough. We were communicating. It was no "Phone Home" but it was something. I fired off videos via text. I kept her up past her bedtime so Chuck could see it when he got home from work. Of course she didn't do it on demand, so I showed him the video. 

"And here we thought her first word would be in Norwegian," he said. "Turns out it's in horse."


So there is a lot of *this* kind of thing going on. Milestones and moments of hilarity. The way she purses her lips, surprised by the bitterness of applesauce; the way she damn-near rips the bowl out our hands when we feed her sweet potatoes. The way she eyes us, sarcastically, when we eat pizza -- as if to say, "I notice you didn't puree that." 

Chuck texts: "In the time it took to send that last text, she threw her spoon, flipped the bowl and smeared bananas all over her tray."


But mostly we talk about crap: the color, consistency, frequency and smell. If I were to present a live reading of text messages exchanged with Chuck, it would be fecal-themed. If, decades from now, our ancestors stumble upon the the cloud that contains our 2014 communications, they will find us vulgar and singularly focused.  

He writes: It was like someone ran a quart of diarrhea in a dirty juicer and then dumped it down the back of her onesie.

Remember the year Chuck used the Porta-Potty at the Spirit Valley Street Dance, stumbled out afterward and immediately barfed -- and he hadn't even been drinking? Now that incident is used as a gauge for gross.

"Gag. Seriously almost puked," he wrote. "Like Streed Dance toilet gross. I had to sponge bath her. I had to clean the carrot chunks off the changing table. I had to clean the orange off the diaper genie. Now Orin puked gravy all over the living room. I've never wanted so badly to go to work." 

Oddly enough, I'm not quite as graphic. I'm more: "Thick paste of apple butter" "23 wipes," "Actually in her armpit," "That was my Vietnam" and "No, wait, that was my Vietnam." 

Today Chuck did a diaper and I came into the room carrying a clean onesie in case she needed a wardrobe change.

"Just pee," he said.
I peeked at the babe on the changing table and and made mention of some debris.
Later, back in the living room, Chuck commented on how we've become desensitized to gross.

"Do you realize," he said. "You just looked at another person's asshole and said she had poop kernels?"



Saturday, January 18, 2014

On a Saturday ...

Wake to the sounds of a tiny soprano, chirping in a makeshift crib at the end of our bed. Her beady eyes blinking at us through the mesh. "Good morning, Boom-Boom," I say and she smiles, squishes her chin into her neck and turns a little red. She acts like she thinks I'm the Queen and she can't believe I remembered her name.

She smells like waffles so I change her diaper. (I would have even if she didn't).

Earlier this week I made us staggered appointments for eye exams. While one is getting blasted with air puffs to the eyeball, the other hangs with the baby. Then, switcheroo.

"Have you ever thought about becoming a famous blogger?" the doctor asks me. We've established that my vision has changed only incrementally since the summer of 2012. I'm still bifocal optional, but I'm dangling by a thread.
"I actually do have a blog," I tell him.
"And do you have many readers?" he asks.
"Probably like 19," I say.
"An elite crowd," he says.
I wonder if he knows about the time I wrote about him telling me I have epicanthal folds. 

Chuck needs new glasses, so I gesture to a wall of larger-than-life faces of fashionable men wearing glasses. Preppy glasses. Athletic glasses. Literati glasses.
"Now," I say. "Which one of these douche bags do you want to look like?"

We get lunch at 5 Guys Burgers. Two burgers, split some Cajun fries. We seem to be sharing a dining room with two kinds of people: dads with weekend custody and one-night stands. The dad at the next table looks like he's ready to cram all his daughter's favorite things into 10 hours; The couple at the soda fountain seems like maybe they forgot to exchange names. 

We've got a time crunch. Chuck has work; I have dance practice. Beforehand, a baby must be fed. And we're trapped. 

Since we've been in the mall, the parking lot has filled around us. People have parked  against snow piles, blocking exits. In order to leave our row, we have to squeeze the Space Shuttle into a 4 foot gap between the butts of two cars. Chuck gets out, surveys the scene, says it's impossible. Eventually a car leaves and we are able to shoot through the space. I stop feeling like I'm about to hyperventate. 

"I just wish the mall would let me borrow it's microphone," I tell Chuck. "I have some things to say to the people."



Sunday, January 5, 2014

Our Pet Human (in her 23rd week ...)


I write these with my right thumb while breastfeeding.

My friend Greener said I need to divulge this. I write quick bursts, then add and subtract from it over time. I should probably be staring lovingly into the baby's ear while she feeds instead of referring to her as a Pet Human and leaving her to Self Serve at the Teat Buffet while I Record Her Life.

Sometimes the anecdotes spoil. They sit too long as Blogger drafts and all of a sudden it's no longer relevant. The raspberry-making phase only lasted two days; The humming-herself-to-sleep was just for about a week. There is no reason to mention it now that she's begun making elaborate chomping motions with her mouth and saying Mm. Mm. Mm.

Right now we're in the practice stages of solid foods. The image of her chin covered with an orange vegetable goatee, like she'd gone cannibal on an Oompa Loompa, is burned into my brain. The way we scoop food off her face and feed it back to her must certainly be leaving emotional scars.

***



***

Me: Where's the baby?
Chuck: In her crib. The madam has requested some alone time with her feet.

***

Me: I keep thinking a reprieve is near.
Chuck: It's not. Know what's near? Solid food poop and crawling.

***

We took the PBG to a few holiday parties and in every case I'd be immediately relieved of the baby at the door, like she was a coat or purse, and I'd look up 20 minutes later to see her in the arms of someone I at least kind of know. Usually. One time I caught a flash of hot pink terry cloth across the room, hugged against a person whose first name I could not recall.

Her husband nodded in their direction and said: "Yeah. She's really good with babies."

During that same party I stood in a circle of women and dished on sleep patterns, always sleep patterns, and another mom approached me and said: "You know, you can stop swaying when you aren't holding her."

***



We did the Santa thing. We dressed her in something cute and cooed North Pole pronouns that mean nothing when you're zero. We walked into the Fitger's Complex and Chuck said something so foreign I almost had to Babblefish:

"I guess we just follow all the kids."

This was a scene of chaos, and we hadn't even gotten to the reindeer kept in a kennel outside the complex. There were kids everywhere. It reminded me of when we went to get a cat from the shelter and were led to a room filled with moving fur, aerodynamic fur, rainbows of fur that bounced from one end of the room to the other. Sweat gushed down my spine.

I ran into old acquaintances, two children deeper than the last time I saw them. The newest: A two week old tucked snug into a car seat. The other two ran figure eights through their legs and the mom told me in a calm, collected voice about the C-section she'd just had and how maybe this time was the worst.

Plus: "I'm still doing the every-two-hour feedings," she said.

There she stood, still post-preg puffy and exhausted-looking, her voice a little hoarse. I thought, "My gah, woman. Shouldn't you be at home rubbing ointment into the stitches place?"

Instead I said, jovially, "Well, aren't you a trooper?"

"Psh. I took a Perocet before we left," she said.

***