Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What Fades Away

The night I gave birth to the Snood, my friend Mindy came to visit me in the hospital. As she sat off to one side cradling my tiny Snoodish pea-pod, I lay curled up on my hospital bed in the midst of the below described phenomenon: (note to mom's-to-be: the following passage is likely to reveal a post-pregnancy reality of which you are currently unaware. If you'd like to remain in your current state of blissful ignorance, skip the next paragraph. In fact, skip this whole entry ladies - YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW.)


...following the delivery, most moms can expect to feel "after pains," which are brought on by the uterus contracting back to its original size..uncomfortable as they may be [these pains] are perfectly normal.

Well, they may well have been perfectly normal folks, but let me assure you - they sucked ridiculously. As I lay there clutching my innards, begging the World's Meanest Nurse (tm) for more Motrin...

...Mindy looked over at me and said in all sincerity,

"Huh, I'd totally forgotten about that part."

OK, Mindy's kids were THREE and FIVE at the time, it's not like they were FORTY. I simply could not fathom HOW could she have forgotten an experience this terrible in that short an amount of time. I was genuinely perplexed.
UNTIL, I remembered "The Cracking".

Let me back up for a moment. Last year, before I was pregnant with Doodle 2, I got a really bad headache.

It felt like my skull was splitting open and it reminded me that there had been a period of my life where I was constantly complaining to David that I was 'Cracking' or had 'The Cracking'. I remembered saying it quite often, in fact, but I could not for the life of me remember to what it was in reference. Maybe a headache? But that didn't seem quite right. So I asked my dear husband.

"Hey honey, remember when I used to say all the time that I was 'cracking'?"

He nodded yes.

"Was it because I had a headache?"

David shrugged, saying he couldn't remember either (thus helping not at all, but providing further evidence of my burgeoning theory that my husband may not listen every time I talk - but perhaps that's a topic best left for another entry entirely).

So it was that 'The Cracking' remained a mystery. Until last month, right about the time I hit the 33-week pregnant mark and SUDDENLY REMEMBERED EXACTLY WHAT I MEANT BY 'THE CRACKING'.

'The Cracking', as it turned out, referred to a sensation that begins around the eighth month of pregnancy, when the baby gets big enough to be up under your ribcage and it feels as if your ribs are being CRACKED OPEN FROM THE INSIDE. Yes, in spite of having actually NAMED this phenomenon the last time I was pregnant, I'd managed to completely block the sensation from my memory banks until it started to occur anew this time around.

Perhaps this skill is hereditary. The first week when I was home with the Snood, my mother was staying with us and I would regularly ask her things like,

"Did I cry a lot when I was first born?"

"When did I first start getting teeth?"

My mother, for whom I was the third child in as many years, would inevitably respond to all such queries,

"Oh, God, I have NO idea. I've blocked that whole time out of my memory."

When she first said this, I remember being somewhat offended by the idea that my own mother would acknowledge mentally purging large sections of my infancy from her memory banks, but wow - do I ever get it now.

Like other trauma sufferers before us, my mother, Mindy, and I have developed an incredibly necessary skill - the ability to block out painful events entirely. For me, 'The Cracking; for Mindy, uterine cramping; and for my mother, large swaths of my and my siblings' collective childhoods! Hey, whatever gets you through it, I say.

There's actually a great deal of comfort in knowing that our brains are in the business of protecting us from our own bad memories. Now that I acknowledge it, I really like the fact that my brain, like a protective older sibling, is constantly looking out for me.

"Nah, you'd be better off not having access to that particular memory - believe me, it's for your own good!"

Thanks, brain!

The only thing about this revelation that gives me any pause is the fact that, with a second baby arriving one month from now, it sometimes occurs to me to wonder - what else is my brain hiding from me? What other horrors has my helpful brain hidden away from me for my own sake? What unforeseen disasters am I going to be subjected to that I've completely blocked out in the 18-months since the Snood first arrived on the scene?

You know what? Maybe it's best not to think about it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Italia In Stato Interessante*

*Italian colloquialism for pregnant "in an interesting state".

David and I have returned from 10 days in Italy!

In 2008, I visited Istanbul for a week and a half while 26 weeks pregnant with Snoodie, so I figured, why not Rome at 32 weeks this time around? I'm keeping careful notes on my collective experiences in preparation for my upcoming travel guide for the ill-advisedly pregnant traveller tentatively titled, "Waddling the World". (Want a brief preview? Avoid bicycling tours!)

Before setting off, I went to my OB to check if she thought the trip was feasible. She seemed entirely unconcerned, saying that as long as I was home by the 34-week-mark she'd sign off. Just as I was about to leave her office, satisfied that I could calm the fears of some worried friends and relatives, she added most unhelpfully:

"Besides, even if you have the baby in Rome, it's not like they don't have hospitals there."

...I skipped that part when telling my mother that I'd gotten the official M.D. sign-off for the journey.

With this semi-blessing from my doctor in hand, off I flew, my trusty maternity belt in hand, ready to see the sights of Rome!

*WOAH! I find myself forced to PAUSE here for a moment and address what just happened when I Googled "MATERNITY SUPPORT BELT" in order to provide you guys with a reference image. THIS...

...is what popped up. I would like you to now take a moment and fully take in and appreciate the image above.

*musical interlude during photo perusal*

OK - that is, indeed a maternity support belt being shown by the "model" above. BUT, I ask you, what could POSSIBLY be the thought process that lead to the production of that image? I mean, what about wearing a belly support apparatus said to some ad-man out there:

"We should totally get a model and style her like she's in her mid-forties, maybe give her a perm and then have her point awkwardly to one shoulder while smiling fearfully!"

...and then his fellow ad-man friend was all...

"I like it! Now, go with me for a minute....is it just me or would it be totally awesome if this lady were wearing her maternity brace in the middle of a multi-colored laser field?"

"I love it!!!"

*Insert ad-men high-fiving*

I mean, if the message they meant to convey is, "You CAN keep your cool in the event of a late-pregnancy attack by disco aliens" then I give the photo an A+ on all counts. Otherwise, I'm a bit lost.

So, I was planning to give you guys a detailed run-down of our trip and tell you of all the lovely sights we sighted, but having been distracted by that photo, I feel I cannot go on. Suffice it to say that David and I took in a cavalcade of tourist spots, ate our weight in homemade pasta and did not have to change a single diaper for nearly 11 days.

And it was awesome.

The only bump in the road came when we found ourselves smack in the middle of this storm...

It took us 44 hours door-to-door to make it home from Rome, but it was all worth it to walk into our house and greet the Snood. He proceeded to run around clapping his hands, spinning in excited circles and screaming in delight at the sight of us for several hours.

If you ever need a little pick-me-up I can HIGHLY recommend spending 11 days away from your 17-month-old and then coming back home. And one last tip - if you spend those days in Italy - you get gelato!!!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


*David and I are in Italy, and have just spent several days in Venice where we were told by the sunny front desk clerk at our hotel, "Een Venice, the internet ees broken." As a result there will be no new blog this week, but I invite you to enjoy this little ditty from from the Short Fat Dictator archives (I thought it was suitably Italian as it mentions lasagna in the opening sentence). The blog is all new next week!*

I went to visit this baby yesterday and to bring her mom and dad a lasagna. (For the record - every human being you produce wins you one free casserole from me. Feel free to submit your request in the comments section*.)

Having been on the receiving end of a cavalcade of well-meaning advice when I birthed the Snood back in September, I resisted the urge to impart any words of wisdom upon the new parents.

Instead, I shall use my blog this week to impart said words of wisdom upon you - mostly by refuting all of the advice I received during my early days of motherhood.

For example:


OK, technically this is not baby advice, rather late-in-pregnancy advice.

"Your life is about to change forever!" friends and strangers alike would offer, "You should be using this time to do every fun and spontaneous thing you can think of!"

Right. Except by the time I was 43 weeks pregnant, I had only 2 maternity outfits that fit. These were size "enormous" and had already been in heavy rotation for over a month.

So "getting all dressed up" was not that appealing a concept.

As for that nice romantic dinner?

Well, dinner was less than appealing, since my out of control pregnancy-induced reflux meant any meal decision had to be weighed against the very real possibility of encountering each course a second time - somewhere around 4am.

And romance? HIGHLY unlikely, as the only feeling I could muster was the barely contained rage I felt towards my husband for getting me in this state in the first place.



Do what I did! Put on the most comfortable pair of slippers you can find, lay down on your sofa and begin rocking back and forth while wailing, "This baby will be ready for driver's ed when it finally comes out!!!" Continue until labor commences.


OK, now the baby is here - let the advising begin! One of the first subjects you'll be multi-advised on is breastfeeding.

My sister called me when her son was three-days-old. "What am I doing wrong?" she asked in a panic. "Everyone I know keeps telling me that breastfeeding isn't supposed to hurt." I had good news and bad news.

The good news - she wasn't doing anything wrong.

The bad news - everyone she knew was a dirty liar.

Breastfeeding hurts at first. It isn't excruciating but it just kinda hurts and feels super-weird. This is true no matter what anyone tells you and no matter how happy and peaceful that lady on the "So You're Ready to Breastfeed!" brochure looks. She's a liar too.



Don't worry about it too much - it will pass in a week or two and then you won't even notice it. So much so that in a couple of years you will have forgotten it to such a degree that you will be telling your own friends/daughters that breastfeeding doesn't hurt.



Let me give you a hypothetical:

I want to imagine lying down for a nice, restful nap.


Before you drift off into that oh-so-peaceful slumber, I should mention, in all fairness, that I have an air horn here that I am going to blow directly into your face sometime in the next 2 hours.

But until then just RELAX ! Get some rest.

This is exactly what it is like trying to "sleep when the baby sleeps".



In the first couple of weeks it will somehow be true that your baby will sleep 20 hours a day while you sleep about 4.

Do not ask me how this math can possibly work, just believe me.




Truly everything I Googled from "my baby is drooling" to "green poop" was met by messages of unrelenting doom and assurances of impending NICU visits.

This from such heralded experts as hotmomz1767@senet.com andluvmyboys245@marqvile.gov.

Do not consult these freaks. Most of them are getting their medical know-how from the people who live in their teeth.


ALTERNATE ADVICE: Put The Google down.


This is the advice you'll get most often, mostly from people with grown children who I have to believe on some elemental level have really blocked out what it is actually like to have a newborn baby.

The fact is you will NOT enjoy every moment with your child and that's OK.

My husband and I did not spend our first nights home from the hospital with our new baby laying in bed and whispering about our love for him or dreaming of what his future might bring.

Instead, we were literally cowering together in bed like two teenagers in a slasher film, just waiting to see what fresh hell the night would bring.

My husband actually said out loud, "I'm frightened of the baby."



Do not worry about making every moment precious.

I look back at entire days I would spend desperately counting the minutes until my husband would come home from work and take our screaming maniac off my hands and I know in my heart that those were times I did not cherish.

But then I look at the calendar and realize our little baby Snood is going to be 6-months-old next week! Which leads me to one really useful bit of parenting wisdom I did receive.

It arrived on a card from my sister's mother-in-law the night I came home from the hospital and it is the advice I'll leave you with as I can think of none better:




Frankly folks, that's all I've got. If that doesn't work for you, it's back to the Google for you. Say hi to hotmomz1767@senet.com from me!

* Author must have met you, in person, at least once to qualify for casserole program. Children born outside the greater Los Angeles area may not be eligible for casserole. Casserole offer is not retroactive. Current children cannot be claimed under existing casserole program. Quality of casseroles on offer has not been independently verified.