Monday, August 31, 2009

Another day, another copay

We had another checkup with our doctor/midwife practice that once again showed how personal medicine is, despite all the science behind it.

We've always been happy with our practice--although we were a bit disappointed with our initial midwife on our last trip to the hospital--in large part because they work with us rather than on us. When pregnant with 3B, Mama was concerned about how much weight she was gaining, and each doctor or midwife--it's a large collaborative practice--had a different opinion. While that shows that there's no absolute correct answer, it's also a bit unsettling.

Then we had an appointment with Dr. G, one of the founding doctors, who explained it this way, "Pregnancy is a natural event with a broad normal range. All we do is ensure that you're within that normal range. If you go out of that range, we talk to you about it." Then he patted his paunch and said, "Besides, it's not becoming for a man of my shape to be telling you that you're gaining too much weight."

In a nutshell, they're honest, modest and they trust us to be intelligent adults.

Today our appointment was with one of the original two midwives, and she was the same as Dr. G, with a mellow manner, and like most of the folks in the practice, she got it. She gets who we are and what we're about, so when we went over our history of appointments and I told her that we want to give baby girl at least as long as her brother had to come out on her own, I didn't need to say anything else. The midwife took it from there and set us up.

See, after our checkup last week, we were supposed to schedule an inducement appointment. But the midwife recommended we come in this Tuesday or Wednesday, which would be just 9 or 10 days after baby girl's due date, and we wanted to give her at least as much time as 3B had to be late, so that she could come on her own, if at all possible. The midwife understood us, but as a matter of course recommended only going 10 days past our due date before inducing.

Her concern was multifold:

  • the placenta gets old and stops producing as much fluid and oxygen as the baby needs
  • labor is stressful and that combined with low oxygen could make baby's heartbeat fluctuate more than normal during labor
  • everyone in the room will know that we're more than 10 days late, which makes them more likely to cut labor short and suggest a c-section
Her feeling was that inducing at 10 days gave us a better chance of a vaginal delivery than of an unplanned c-section.

Giving us the benefit of the doubt, she scheduled us for tests--non-stress test and amniotic fluid index, for you OB geeks out there--on Friday, to determine how comfy baby girl is in Mama. We passed with flying colors, so there's no hurry to get baby girl out--from her perspective, although Mama has a slightly different take on it. Just in case, they had us book another round of tests on Tuesday, to ensure nothing's changed.

Today we got to experience one of the joys of a collaborative practice--seeing the range of opinions among practitioners. After going over the last week's history with today's midwife, and explaining how we were aiming to give baby girl as much time as possible, we left it up to the midwife to recommend a course of action.

She recommended that she strip Mama's membranes, which we were planning to have her do, confirmed that tomorrow's tests are a good idea and told us that next time we came in, we'd have to see a doctor, because "they're kind of sticky about some of their rules." However, she continued, she would pick her doctor, looking for one who's laid back. She found him, even though he's at another of their office locations, and so that's where we're going on Wednesday. This other office isn't too far from our house, so it's not inconvenient.

While we were celebrating our ability to let baby girl schedule her own delivery, however, we were also realizing that this meant there is no definite end in site for Mama. She'd been counting on scheduling an inducement appointment today, so walking out without one left her, once again, hanging.

So this is where we are--still pregnant, with a calendar full of appointments. I think part of the reason they schedule so many appointments when you're past due is to ensure the mother is doing her share of walking. In fact, today's appointment was one floor up from the regular office, which was probably just to get Mama to walk up the two flights of stairs...which she did two at a time.

Is she kidding? Just watching her do that made a vein pop out in my neck. Oi!

At some point we'll have to bite the bullet and schedule an inducement. Perhaps when we do, baby girl will respond the same way her brother did--by finally deciding to come out and see what this world is all about before being pushed out. It's a trait he has to this day--he'd much rather do something himself, even something he finds laborious, than have someone do it for him. And yes, we do exploit this Achilles heel for all it's worth.

While we wait, we remind ourselves that this is a natural event with an end date and we take comfort in the words of our midwife: "They do all eventually come out. I read that in a book somewhere."


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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Thankful for what we got

What we've had today:

  • An introduction to Wonder Pets
  • Breakfast on the couch
  • A swim lesson
  • A snack in the car
  • Birthday cake
  • Two juice boxes
  • A fun time playing Auntie's drums with J
  • A good time playing with a party favor bag
  • Two poopy diaper changes within 20 minutes
  • A fun time coloring
  • Stories read to us by Grammy
  • A nap (we hope...the verdict's not quite in on this one)

What we haven't had today:
  • A baby
And we're thankful for what we got...



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Friday, August 28, 2009

Who cleaned our house?

Yesterday, 3B got up and ran out into the living room, where he stopped in his tracks and had this exchange with Mama:

3B: Who cleaned our house?
Mama: She's sitting right over there--Grammy cleaned our house.
3B: Thanks, Grammy.
Mama: Do you like it?
3B: Yes.
Mama: Is our house usually this clean?
3B: No.
Bad parents, no biscuit.

And thanks for ratting us out, kiddo.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Getting testy

Something has been keeping me busy, so I'm only just now getting around to posting this video of the carnival we went to in June.

Maybe it's this mild summer weather that's been distracting me...hm, no, that's not it. Maybe it was switching from a bus to a bike commute...hm, no, that's given me more energy, so that's not it. Maybe it's something with Mama...hm, what could that be?

Oh yeah, that's it--we're pregnant. And yes, we're still pregnant.

Tomorrow we go for a non-stress test and an amniotic fluid index in the afternoon at the hospital, after which we either get to come home or go upstairs to be induced into labor.

Uh, what now?

If we pass that test, then we have another checkup on Monday, during which they'll tell us when we can schedule our inducement appointment. We'd like it to be later in the week--say, Friday night--but our doctors and midwives are waiting to see the results of the tests before they agree to that.

Right now, they're not inclined to agree with that, so it looks like, one way or another, we'll have a baby by the end of next weekend. Knock on wood, fingers crossed, god willing, creek don't rise and all that.



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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

She may be all that, but she's not all here

We had a checkup appointment today and the results are in: we're still pregnant.

However, the baby appears to have dropped, so that's progress.

It was a good appointment, with a midwife who had a great manner. She knew her stuff, explained things clearly and understands what we're all about with our hypnobirthing. None of that should be surprising--but it's still a pleasant surprise when it all comes together. Besides, perhaps she can explain what we're all about with our hypnobirthing, since I'm still not sure how it's all going to work out.

I'm excited for hypnobirthing, however. It relaxes Mama--when I read through the exercises with her every most nights, they never fail to put her into a deep sleep almost immediately. It's great that they relax her, but of course it means that she misses most of what I say.

Hm. Perhaps that's for the best.

It also relaxes me to read through the material, which is nice, since this time around, Mama's depending on me rather than the man with the epidural needle to get her through. Hopefully, this time around I can be there for Mama rather than having to step into the next room to finalize details on our new car purchase like I did last time.

Relaxing is about all we have to do these days, since the baby girl seems perfectly content to stay in Mama's uterus for the next 10-12 years or so. I've tried explaining to her that she'll have to come out to go to kindergarten, and all she did was kick me. Or punch me. It's a little hard to tell.

So, I told her to come out of there right now so I could put her in time out because hitting is not allowed. At that point it was hard to tell if she spit at me, like her brother would have, or flipped me the bird.

Either way, my techniques aren't getting her out, so we had to talk to the midwife today about what techniques they have. The first step is to see how baby girl is doing. So we'll have tests on Friday at the hospital to see how much amniotic fluid is left and what baby girl's heart rate is. If there's any concern about either, they might send us directly upstairs for an inducement, but the odds of that are low.

You can follow me to find out how that goes.

If we don't have a baby over the weekend, we'll have another checkup on Monday, during which we'll probably ask them to strip Mama's membranes, which might prompt labor to start, if Mama and baby girl are ready for it.

If that doesn't do anything, the next appointment would be to induce, which we're hoping to schedule for next Friday evening. That's Sept. 4 for those of you keeping score at home.

And if you think that was confusing, you should have seen Mama's face when the midwife was going over it. As I said, the midwife communicated well, but to Mama, she might as well have been speaking the riddles of the Sphinx in Coptic. This is why, for everyone's safety, a woman who's nine months pregnant should always take someone with her to the doctor--someone who has not had their brain stolen by a baby to be.

But Mama still knows what's what about the most important issue: we're still pregnant.


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Monday, August 24, 2009

I'm a grilled cheese sandwich

I miss Barky every time I drop food on the floor and realize that I'm going to have to bend over and pick it up.

I miss Mom every time I say something like, "I think I'll make myself a sandwich." and nobody else replies, "Poof! You're a sandwich!"

And I miss Dad every time I screw up parenting as I did last night. I don't miss him because he had all the answers or because he was always right. In fact, I still struggle to undo traits I learned from him that I don't want to pass along--like my temper, which explodes out of nowhere and slashes out with a sharp tongue, cutting deeply into anyone nearby, regardless of their relation (or lack of relation) to whatever set me off.

Unfortunately, I think that apple's already fallen from the tree and can't be put on again. Like any good parent, however, I'm blaming genetics--whenever 3B melts down, I point to his red hair and announce loudly to all who will hear me, "With red hair like that, what do you expect?"

It's at moments like that when I'm glad that my red beard has gone almost totally gray, allowing me to obscure my responsibility for anything my son does.

So, enough about my bad parenting overall, let's get back to last night. I was reading 3B bedtime stories, having a good time, until we had to transition from reading stories to going to bed. I reminded him that we had read the three stories he had chosen and now it was time to go see lovies when he spit on me--blowing a raspberry at point-blank range is how he does it--and punched me twice. In the face.

Fortunately for all involved, he's no Muhammad Ali, but his little whacks still sting, especially when he catches me in the eye, as he did last night.

At that point, I could have put 3B in time out, but that tends to wind him up more and my goal was to wind him down and get him into bed and into sleep. Often, when he's spitting and hitting it's because he tired, and last night was no exception. So, I handed him off to Mama, who had just come into the room and told him that I was leaving.

As I did so, I wanted to make clear why I was leaving, so I bent down low and whispered to him to get his attention. I told him that I was leaving because when he hit me he hurt me, that he made me sad, and that I wasn't happy. And, with that, I walked out.

But I'm not sure that was the best parenting. I was still pretty ticked when I said that, which is never a good place to be when trying to communicate clearly and model good communication. Also, my tendency is to walk away from rather than resolve disputes, partially because I strongly dislike disputes, but also to retain power, and what I'd like to do is show 3B how to successfully resolve disputes. Further, I have serious qualms about using guilt like that as a parenting tool.

After all, as a comedian once observed about his mother, my mom was a travel agent for guilt trips. Nevertheless, I prefer using something like guilt to using something like spanking, especially because now that I'm the parent, I don't really see it as guilt. I'm not trying to make 3B feel guilty; I'm trying to communicate clearly to him how his actions affected others. And yes, I'm aware that might just be a massive rationalization, but somehow he's got to build his superego.

Then again, is this the right way to build it? If so, was what I said the right thing to keep us on the right way?

These are the questions that lead me to miss Dad, not so much for his answers, but because he was a Dad who screwed up. I think that maybe he could tell me how to get past this, let go of it and get ready for the next challenge. And if not, we could at least commiserate about how hard this fatherhood thing is, maybe over some comfort food.

But he's not gone as long as I carry him in my memories and my heart, so I close my eyes and picture the scene...

Me: I guess none of us have the answer.
Dad: You do the best you can.
Me: OK. OK. Do you want something to eat? I'm going to make myself a grilled cheese sandwich.
Mom: Poof! You're a grilled cheese sandwich!

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Put your money where your mouth is

I've created a petition for all of you who are opposed to government run healthcare programs. I encourage you to put your money where your mouth is and sign it.

After you sign it, post a comment here linking to images of documentation proving that you've actually taken the action you promise to. If you don't provide the documentation within three months of signing the petition, I'll remove your signature from the petition.

I also encourage you to share this with your elected representatives who have been vociferous in their opposition to government run health care. I welcome them to sign it and provide documentation that they have fulfilled their vow, including opting out of their employer health care program.

Sign the petition now
.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

A slice off the old finger

Yes, my son did throw a football into the kitchen--he was trying to get it on top of the refrigerator--while I was loading glasses into the dishwasher.

Yes, that did result in two broken glasses and a gash on the top of my finger that probably could have used a stitch or two.

Yes, this is the result of the curse Mama often repeated when she was pregnant with 3B: If it's a boy, I hope he's just like you.

I told her she should talk to my Mom before she uttered those words, but she ignored me and kept on saying it. So now, in addition to my other self-inflicted scars, I'll have a beaut on the back of my middle finger, courtesy of my son.

If you want to know what I think of that, I'll hold it up for you to see for yourself.

The good news, however, is that 3B got half of his genetic material from Mama, which means that he's whip smart. This Wednesday, they were in his room, playing with the foam letters that used to be in the bath to stick on the wall, but which are now scattered around our house because...well, just because.

Mama came out and said that 3B had picked up the "o" and said, "'O' says 'uh.'" (Thank you, Leapfrog.) Then he said, "If I had two 'f's,' I could spell 'off.'" He then did the same thing with the letter "d" and the word "dog."

Yeah, that's all Mama's side of the family, there.

It's been coming for awhile now. Earlier in the week he sounded out "stranger," "gallop" and the ever-popular "no." Actually, he reads "no" all the time on signs. Like his parents, he only obeys it when it suits him.

My favorite is when he reads a sign that says something like "No Parking" and tells me that it says "No, Daddy, you cannot do that." However, his new ability to read will mean that I have to stop making up sign messages too, like the one in the doctor's office that says "No Screaming," which also happens to say "No Hitting" and "No Spitting."

But we got a new tool on this front from Grammy, when she took 3B to the supermarket with Mama. 3B was being...well...a three year old, when Grammy very seriously told him that there are ghouls that live in the basement of the store that eat the toes of kids who don't behave. Apparently, 3B settled right down after that.

She let us know that those ghouls live in the basements of many stores--Home Depot, CVS, BJ's, and so on.

And who am I to argue with Grammy?

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Timing and delivery

Yesterday, Mama went to her weekly checkup with 3B and Grammy. The midwife said Mama was dilated to 3 centimeters, which is how far she was dilated when we arrived at the hospital to have 3B, so she's already ahead of where she was last time without any real contractions yet.

Let's hear it for moms' amazing bodies and their ability to not only remember what to do but also to learn from the last birth to make the next one easier.

Because 3B's baby sister is in the 90th percentile for size--just as her brother continues to be--and 3B was late, the midwife suggested sweeping Mama's membranes to see if she could prompt labor to start a little earlier, while baby girl is still a little smaller. Mama said OK, but the midwife couldn't do it because every time she went to do it, baby girl floated up away from her. The midwife did touch her head, however.

Touched her head.

It gets more real every day.

This all did make Mama a little nervous that she wouldn't be able to deliver, that she would have to have a c-section, that...so I talked her down from the ledge last night. I'll also go into the next appointment to ask questions and help avoid an inducement before 42 weeks--unless there's a risk to Mama or baby girl, of course.

I reminded Mama that 3B was big--9 pounds--and late--10 days late--and she was a champion delivering him. I also reminded her that her body's got a jump start this time, which means that it remembers what to do and how to do it, which should make things easier. I also moved the yoga ball into the living room, so Mama could sit on that--it's supposed to help the baby drop down into Mama's pelvis.

Mama said it wasn't too comfortable, but then again, what is at this point?

That left the couch to 3B, Grammy and me. We were on the couch as Mama finished up some work for the day, looking at an art project that 3B had done with Auntie D--also nine months pregnant--who came over to play yesterday.

Grammy: Tell Daddy what that shape is.
3B: A triangle.
Grammy: And what did you make it with?
3B: What?
Grammy: What did you use to make the triangle?
3B: What?
Grammy: Did you use a stamp?
3B: Yes.
Grammy: What did Deborah use to make the stamp?
3B: What?
Grammy: Tell Daddy.
3B: No. You tell me.
Grammy: OK, I'll whisper it to you. (whispers it to 3B) Now tell Daddy.
3B: (silence) Whisper it again.
Grammy: (whispers it to 3B) Now tell Daddy.
3B: (silence) Whisper it again.
Grammy: (whispers it to 3B) Now tell Daddy.
3B: (looks at me, takes his thumb out of his mouth, pauses, then, in deadpan) She keeps saying, "potato."
Maybe you had to be there...but take it from me, that kid has perfect comedy timing and delivery.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Grammy don't take no mess

Grammy arrived yesterday afternoon. I picked up our babysitter and her boyfriend at the airport after their trip to Chicago and made sure she got safely home.

Now the only woman we're waiting on to arrive is 3B's little sister. I'm sure she'll arrive when she's damn well ready, and not a moment before.

But to keep the little girl from getting too comfortable in there and perhaps thinking she could hang out for awhile longer, Grammy took Mama and 3B to pick peaches, apples and raspberries today. Yes, today, when the forecast calls for it to be about 173 degrees here in Northern Virginia. Humidity levels are due to make walking feel like swimming.

I know what response I would get if I suggested this to my lovely wife...mostly because I did suggest it a few weeks back, when the mercury was only rising to about 138 degrees. She said something about "Not going to find me hinching over some shrubs, pulling up..." and then there was cursing and gesticulating and I suddenly found a project in the next room that needed my attention.

But nobody argues with Grammy, who says it's time for her granddaughter--her first granddaughter--to be born.

Got that, little girl?


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Saturday, August 15, 2009

You only live twice

This last week, Mama's Grammy--3B's Great Grammy--died.

Because Mama was 38, now 39, weeks pregnant, we couldn't go to the funeral. It was heartbreaking not to be there, but Mama's mom told Mama that she shouldn't even think about coming, which settled it.

It was hard in different ways for Mama and me. Mama was quite close to her Grammy, having taken full advantage of her ability to visit Grammy throughout her life, even during college and all of her travels after that.

I lost my second Grandmother when I was in college, and I made a decision then that still makes me cringe so hard my toes curl until my feet cramp. I decided not to go to her funeral. I had my reasons then, I suppose, but in hindsight, they were worth the air they were spoken into. Mom, to her credit, tried to convince me to go, but left the decision to me, not resorting to any emotional pleas or ploys.

It wasn't that I didn't love my Grandmother--I adored her. Perhaps that's just because she served us a selection of mango, guava, apricot or orange juice along with sausage links and Sara Lee treats at breakfast. Or because she had a bucket of Lincoln Logs that she let us strew around her living room as we did battle with each other and exploded many forts with precariously arranged watchtowers. Or because she had a pool in her back yard--with a diving board. Or maybe it was the jars of candies along the back of her kitchen counter that we could snack from as we watched TV with a remote control--you know the one...you pressed the button on it--kachunk!--and the knob on the console TV actually turned to the next station.

I could go on, but it wasn't any of that, of course. It was Grandmother's unrestrained love, her mirth and her delight in life that created my love of her.

As funerals do, Grandmother's gathered a wide-ranging family together in a long moment of kinship that can never be repeated. After I realized what I had done wrong and missed out on, I swore to never miss another family funeral. If we're not there for each other even in death, what is the thickness of this blood we share?

Having a family of my own has caused me to add some footnotes to that vow, and I've had to add another one now. See, even though Mama's Grammy wasn't my Grammy by birth, she became my Grammy well before she died.

The first time I went to the farm with Mama, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I quickly learned, however, that Grammy's house was a place full of laughs, good food and nice long couches to nap on. Even Barky made himself right at home when he first arrived by barfing up a whole bowl of food right at Grammy's feet--after which, he curled up on a couch for a nap.

Here's hoping I made a better first impression than that.

And when I asked Grammy what I should call her, she replied, "Everyone else calls me Grammy, you might as well too." And then she gave me one of those bright grins and laughed her delightful laugh.

Just like that, I had another Grammy.

She was like the moon and the stars--I couldn't always see Grammy, but I knew she was always there. I went with Mama every 4th of July and Christmas, and Mama frequently went on her own in between those trips.

I fell in love with the land Grammy raised all of her children on, although I can't say that I've traveled over more than a fraction of it, and loved to hear Grammy's stories about what had happened there. I loved that she let me think I knew what I was talking about, but every once in awhile called me on it, just to let me know she was on to me. I love it that she laughed loud and often and that she always had a hug and a kiss for all of us when we walked through her door--even Barfy.

Then we had 3B, and Grammy--his Great Grammy--held him, sang to him, read to him, and found delight in everything he did. She loved his endless raucous concerts in her living room and in the months before she died, she called regularly to play a-ha! with him.

The rules are simple: one person says, "A-ha!" followed by the next person saying, "A-ha!" which is followed by hearty laughter. Repeat this until everyone playing and watching is too tired from laughing to continue. Of course, our little chatterbox wouldn't stop at "A-ha!" He would tell her what he was doing and what he had done, and even though he couldn't see her, he knew she was there. He knew she was listening.

He knew it like he knows the moon and stars are shining in the night sky for him to wonder at and perhaps someday fly to. And should 3B ever slip the surly bonds of earth into the high untrespassed sanctity of space, I'm fairly sure that it will be not just to reach the stars, but to reach that star, and that if he reaches his hand out, it will be to once more touch her face, feel her kiss and her embrace.

And in the roaring silence of space, floating in silvered gossamer skin, I'd hope that he'd hear the music of the stars, and in it recognize the lilting notes of her laughter.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Debunking, Death Crib for Cutie

Not much going on here, so I have all the time in the world to write a verbose blog entry.

Last Friday, Mama realized that there was nowhere for her mom to sleep when she comes for 3B's baby sister's arrival. We had thought of having Grammy sleep on 3B's big boy bed and having 3B sleep either in his crib, or if he'd moved to his big boy bed, on the infernal futon that's never going to leave our house under his big boy bed.

However, he's only been in his big boy bed for a few weeks now and it would be too much change to have him on the futon when Grammy's here for his sister's birth, and neither he nor Grammy would be sleeping on the top bunk. So it was that we spent last Friday night debunking the bunk beds.

Of course, we first had to disassemble 3B's Death Crib for Cutie...thanks for that name, MrJumbo.

We had prepped 3B for the crib demolition, and he was psyched to help me with the project since it involves tools and bolts and parts and destruction and mayhem.

There's a reason one of his nicknames is Shiva.

He did well with it, although he still gives one whine every night when he realizes that his crib isn't there to sleep in. 3B was the biggest advocate for moving to his big boy bed, climbing out of his crib and marching over to sleep in it, forcing us to make the change, so he knows he doesn't want his crib back, but he still misses his it.

And yes, I did have Mama lift off and move the top bunk when she was nine months pregnant. Hey, I took the mattress off first.

So we slept in on Saturday before heading out the door to a morning Rocknoceros concert at Wolf Trap. We met Aquarium Drinker and his wife and boys in the parking lot, where we all got ready to smuggle in our concert supplies: sippy cups and raisin boxes.

Man, the times have changed.

The show was good, as always. The Rockno boys played a lot of the songs off their new album and the older boys--that's me, 3B, AD, and his older son, who's about 3B's age--went for a walk in the woods while the Mamas stayed behind. The ADs have a three-month old who AD's wife was wearing and Mama...well, Mama's still nine months pregnant, so there was no scrambling up the hill into the poison ivy thickets woods for them.

The ADs had planned ahead, something we seem incapable of at this juncture, and brought a picnic, but the Bradsteins ended up having a lovely picnic at the closest Burger King, where 3B got what has to be the lamest toy ever--a "night vision" GI Joe scope, which is nothing more than a green piece of plastic to look through.

3B's review: meh.

By then, we had already lost something that would consume the first half of our week with a somewhat harried search, but we didn't know it, so we all went home and had a blissful afternoon of nap, pool, dinner and bed.

On Sunday, we fulfilled our promise from July 4: we took him to Fort McHenry.

See, on July 4, we went to a baseball game with friends and stayed for the fireworks. It wasn't 3B's first game, but as we were explaining all the happenings of a baseball game, we talked about the Star Spangled Banner--the kid does like music, after all.

We got the inevitable questions: Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?

We have spent the last month and a half then explaining that the there were bombs bursting in air because there was a big fight between the British and the Americans, that there were soldiers and that there was a fort. Of course, we were halfway through that month before we realized that it was really the War of 1812, not the Revolutionary War, but hey, same teams, different game.

The look on 3B's face when we told him that, however, was priceless--I can't believe you lied to me about the war of 1812!

Dude, we didn't lie, we're just slow like that.

So it was that on one of the hottest days of the year, we found ourselves marching around brick paths in and out of clapboard buildings--it was a stifling good time.

The re-enactment soldiers were firing guns as we left the introductory movie ("Why do we have to be so quiet in the movie?!" "I can't be quiet; my voice is too loud!" "I choose that we leave now!"), so I hustled him over to see that while Mama bought snacks.

Of course, the gunshots were loud and terrified 3B, who almost started crying and had to run away. "Let's go home!" If there's nothing else I'm good for, I do excel at introducing our son to things that scare the bejeezus out of him. Great.

Also, have you ever tried to run down a brick path carrying a 35 pound boy on a hot, sticky summer day? It's like falling down a flight of stairs with a kettle full of boiling water--you end up hurt, hot and soaked.

After that, things picked up. There were tunnels to explore--although not as many as I'd hoped for, since this is a pre-Civil War era fort, which means that it's mostly reinforced embankments, not a building. 3B did get to see cots and bunk beds, bomb shelters and gunpowder magazines, and climb up and down stairs and hills. He was, of course, most fascinated by the prison, which was closed and locked off by the time we got there.

We'd thought we might stay for two hours, but ended up staying for over four hours. We were nicely roasted as we got stuck in traffic on the way home and Mama announced that she was having contractions. She was sure they were Braxton-Hicks, and I was pretty sure too since she didn't look as uncomfortable during them as she did during real contractions last time.

Nevertheless, they were coming every five minutes and lasting about a minute each. Mama said that when she sits in one position for too long, this often happens. Since we were stuck in traffic and Mama can't recline because we moved 3B's seat behind hers to fit the baby's car seat into the middle of the back seat, Mama was stuck in that position for over an hour.

As soon as we discerned the pattern, my mind was racing: we haven't gotten a gift for the baby to give 3B when he comes to meet her, we haven't packed our bag, Grammy's not here...and so on. That last one is the most important one, really.

Of course, it helped me calm down when we got home and Mama announced that she had lost her wallet, and that the last time she remembered having it was on Friday. Great, because we'd only traveled a few hundred miles since then, so it could be anywhere in the tri-state region now.

As you can tell, my reaction was not one of calm understanding. Of course, there was little to no air conditioning in our place to help cool my hot head.

Yes, going into the hottest days of the summer, our air conditioner decided to give up the ghost. To its credit, it didn't suddenly fail, but slowly faded away. But around Sunday night we decided that now was the time to replace it. Because we needed one more thing to do.

As we booked the A/C appointments, the bathroom contractors, who we've been waiting on to finish final repairs to our new bathroom for six months, finally called and said they would be coming out this week. On separate days. On days that were already fully booked.

But, you know that if we postponed them, we wouldn't see them again until 3B was entering kindergarten, so we said, come on over, join the circus.

Seriously, what the hell--we had cleared our calendar for this month so that we could chill out, rest up and be ready for 3B's baby sister's arrival. I figure this is just the universe's way of prepping us for the chaos that is soon to come.

Right? All this other stuff will fade away as soon as 3B's sister arrives, right?

That's the wrong answer.



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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What goes on behind closed doors? I don't care.

Why are the Kleenex on top of the refrigerator?

Why am I carrying a long, skinny screwdriver in my pocket to unlock the bathroom door?

There's one answer to both of those questions, and he's mercifully asleep behind a closed door.

Or not. His final words to me as I kissed him good night were, "After you leave, I'm going to turn on the lights."

That is surely what he did, and Mama went back in to press the reset button on bedtime.

I went grocery shopping because I'd run out of laundry to do.

All seems well now, but nonetheless, I'm not checking the video monitor.

Ignorance is bliss.

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

Bob, bob, bobbin' along

Why is Twitter still all suckbag and stuff?

Oh well, I'll just post it here and you'll all see it anyway, but blogs are sooooo 2007...

Want to buy a BOB Revolution, loaded with extras (rain cover, cup holder, car seat kit)?

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Friday, August 07, 2009

EPO and pregnancy: Mama begins doping for delivery

Yesterday was another good one for 3B and it was the day Mama started doping in preparation for her upcoming delivery.

Mama and 3B headed out to Jammin' Java expecting to see Oh Susannah, but were pleasantly surprised to find that Mr. Skip had replaced her on the schedule. On the way home, Mama managed to squeeze in a trip to Harris Teeter. It's easier to get 3B in and out of there than some other stores since they have free cookies by the front door.

After that, it was home for more playing, lunch and a snooze. Also, Mama somehow managed to prepare a delicious dinner that we shared with 3B's babysitter of yore, Ms. A. She was his babysitter while Mama and I took training rides to prepare for our century ride, and we found out last night that she's willing to babysit again when we head to the hospital to deliver 3B's baby sister, which is good news all around.

That's just about the final preparation we needed to make to be ready for the trip to the hospital. We have the car seat, the new crib (replacing 3B's recalled death trap), the double stroller, the hand-me-down clothes for the baby's first six months from a generous friend, the teeny tiny (will she really be that small?) diapers, and the pig who will play music during delivery.

We also have Mama's EPO. That's right, Mama is taking EPO to prepare for delivery--that's Evening Primrose Oil, for the uninitiated. It was mentioned in our hypnobirthing classes as a good supplement to prepare Mama's cervix for delivery, and then our midwife/doctor practice also recommended it, so Mama ordered some up from Amazon.

The midwife handed Mama a reminder sheet--they're familiar with what pregnancy does to parents' brains--that abbreviated Evening Primrose Oil as EPO. It's a clear sign that Mama has been spending too much time with me that she looked at that and said, "I can't take EPO!" before remembering that this was EPO, not EPO.

Now that we have all the stuff, we're getting to that point when we're focusing closer on the delivery and whatever we can do to make it easier. Or maybe that's just the guy in me who needed to have the tools on hand before he could focus on the emotional and physical parts of having a baby. Last night, after dinner, Mama had a cup of red raspberry tea, which is also supposed to prepare her cervix for delivery.

Ms. A decided that she'd just have Sleepytime tea instead, not really needing any cervix preparation. That reminded me of a moment in hypnobirthing when the instructor started us on a new exercise, which she said was mostly for the moms but that the dads could participate in. We started with relaxation breathing and then she led us through some visualizations during which she said, "Now, I want you to breathe through your vagina."

Mama looked over at me and said, "Good luck with that one, champ."

Now, I'm no doctor, but I'm pretty sure that's not what that part of the body is for. Or capable of.

I'm down with doing whatever it takes to make this delivery easy--hell, I'll even have a cup of the tea to keep you company--but I have to say, Mama, that you're on your own with the vagina breathing.

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Finally, one in the win column

This morning I had a chance to help out a baby crawling alone across the bike path in the rain.

It was raining when I got up to check the weather for my bike commute. It was still raining when I brought my bike in off the balcony and when I got downstairs and rolled out. It rained all the way in to work, which was refreshing because it brought the temperature down 10 degrees or so.

OK, so the road grit on my water bottle nozzle wasn't so much fun, but I probably needed more roughage in my diet anyway.

And when I was rolling along on the bike trail, I came across the baby--a one-inch long box turtle whose shell had been chewed up around its head. It was smack in the middle of the path and pulled in as I rolled past, staying that way when I circled back around to shepherd it to the other side.

Because of the rain, there weren't many people out, so I took my time to park my bike, walk over, lift up the turtle and place it in the dense shrubs on the side of the path it was walking toward. This made me feel much better than my wildlife encounter two days ago on the ride home from work.

I came across a chipmunk lying on its side, twitching on the edge of the path. I braked and circled back to see what the problem was. As I pulled up to park my bike, I could see blood around the little guy's mouth and he writhed again. For the last time. By the time I walked over to him, he was dead. I felt I couldn't just leave him out in the path to possibly get run over by a biker, so I found a stick and pushed him off into the foliage at the edge of the path.

Moving his limp body, I couldn't help but see images of Barky's limp body in the back room of the vet's office and think to myself that this has got to end, this dying. And then, last night one of our best friends called to say that she'd had to put her dog down earlier that night.

It's enough to make you wonder sometimes if you're on the right planet.

But this morning my faith was restored by one tiny terrapin.

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