Friday, February 15, 2008


Head colds are never exactly fun. Not in the best of circumstances.

But having your first nasty cold in over a year, and then having your newborn catch it from you, well, that sucks royal monkey ass.

I honestly don't know how she does it, but our Peanut has managed to maintain her happy-go-lucky demeanor with a head full of snot. She snorfles and coughs and gags and makes mucousy gurgling noises all day and all night. She whimpers when I put saline drops up her schnoz and suction out the boogers. And then she smiles at me.

She doesn't get that from me, that's for sure. I've been a foul mouthed grouch since I first started sniffling. I grumble all day and all night, pausing only to hurl invectives and accusations at my poor, beleaguered, long-suffering husband. And by last night he, patient though he is, had had just enough sleep deprivation and aggravation to take the bait.

Somehow, the smunchkin managed to snore her way through what shall forever be known in our household as the St. Valentines Day Massacre.

We could learn a thing or two from her.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Road Trip!

Gabby had quite the adventure this past weekend. The occasion was a surprise party that my mom threw for my dad's 65th birthday at their retirement Active Adult Community clubhouse in Arizona. We figured that seeing his littlest grandbaby, and seeing all three of his adorable grandkids together for the first time, would be the icing on my dad's birthday cake.

Dad was duly surprised and delighted. We also learned a few things about traveling with Gabby.[1]

The good news is that, like her parents, girlina digs a good road trip. She spent a good part of the trip asleep, mastered the art of sucking down milk from a bottle in a moving vehicle, and still managed to sleep on her regular schedule at night, even managing the time difference with aplomb. Despite being cooped up in the back of a Mini Cooper for hours on end, she fussed for a grand total of maybe 30 minutes in both directions.

On the other hand, gone are the days when we could do a 12-16 hour drive (depending on traffic) in one shot, stopping only to fill one tank and empty another. No, this trip took the better part of four days, all for a 40 hour sojourn with my folks. Totally worth it, to be sure, but man, babies sure do march to their own (slow) drummer.

Gone also are the days when we could just throw a few things in a bag and head out. For the first time in, well, ever, I actually made a LIST. I started pumping for the trip a week in advance so we'd be able to give the wee one milk on the road without having to stop. We packed what I thought would be way more stuff than we'd ever need: six pairs of jammies for a four day trip; approximately a bazillion diapers; seven or eight different outfits; blankets; burp cloths; snuggle nest; snacks for the ride; half the medicine cabinet; and oh yeah, some clean underwear and a change of clothes for me. By the end of the trip, despite having done laundry mid-way through, I heard myself say, "Here. Put this one on her. It only has spitup on it."

Despite our snail's pace and the fact that both Peanut and I ended up with nasty colds by the end of the trip, we're really glad we made the journey. Our little road warrior has made her chops, and made her whole family happier in the process.

[1] Hereinafter known as "the wee one," "Peanut," "Smunchkin," "Chief Hungry Horse," "Princess Poopy Pants," "girlina," "baby monster," "kitten," "Boo Boo," or any other of a score of nauseatingly cute nicknames she seems to have acquired.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Losing Sight

Back when I was in the trenches, doubting that I'd ever have a child, an online friend who'd had multiple miscarriages posted a photo of herself and her infant on her blog, with a single word: Joy.

The look on her face was irresistible. I still sometimes go back and look at that photo and cry. It gave me hope then; now, I know what she was feeling when that picture was taken and I weep with gratitude.

After all the pain and disappointment that I went through before life sent Gabby my way, I want more than anything to offer hope to my friends who are still struggling and suffering, the way that others extended their hands to me.

Suffering, I think, has the potential to expand our vision -- it makes us able to see others in a different light, to see what they see. That, I guess, is the definition of empathy, and empathy is a quality I value highly. At its most basic level, it's what keeps us from killing each other; at its highest, it's what makes of us saints and poets.

That's why it's so difficult for me to contemplate that perhaps my joy has clouded my vision. Now that I have what I so dearly wanted for so long, I risk becoming smug, prescriptive, self-satisfied. I risk losing sight of the suffering that connects me to people who have not yet made it to Normalville. This loss of vision struck me twice recently in the form of difficult conversations with friends who are struggling to have children, both prompted by something I said that was decidedly NOT helpful.

One conversation involved my attempts to reassure a friend that she would eventually have a child. I remember hating it when I felt people were shining me on with empty promises, minimizing my pain and fears for the future. Why did I turn around and do the same thing?

The other incident was even worse. In response to a casual "how are you?" I glibly remarked that I couldn't be better -- I have a baby and I'm on maternity leave! Ouch. Talk about rubbing it in.

I could claim sleep deprivation, or the way that an infant monopolizes one's attention, or just my relief and joy at finally having a child as reasons/excuses, but I'm not sure that's the whole of it. I fear that there's a part of me that wants to reside permanently in Normalville and shake the dust of Heartbreak Town off my feet forever. Who, me? No, I've never felt like a barren hag, never! I'm a regular Fertile Myrtle, I am, yes, a bona fide member of the Cute Moms' Club. We discuss sleep and poops and the relative merits of Ergo carriers and ring slings, and oh my, I could never even imagine injecting myself with fertility drugs in a public restroom like some junkie - never!

Am I delighted beyond belief to be past the despair and worry and obsession with my estradiol levels and waking temperatures? Well, of course. But the fact is, I used to own real estate in Heartbreak Town, and I will forever be marked by that experience. The little heart we saw beating in January '06 will never beat again, and nothing will ever change that, not even our little miracle girl. That stuff happened, and damn it, if I cannot undo it, I can at least honor that experience by keeping my eyes open and not losing sight of the suffering of others.