Monday, March 30, 2009

I was going to start this entry by saying "it's amazing how much you don't get done when you have a baby," but I rethought that and decided not to. Because in fact you get a hell of a lot done, especially if you are the Giant Milk Machine part of the parental unit: you are giving life to a human being, and that is HUMONGOUS. So you should not feel bad if 4 o'clock rolls around and you are only now starting to check your email for the first time in eight days. And you shouldn't feel bad if, housework-wise, you only swept the kitchen floor and washed the dishes in the sink. And you shouldn't feel bad if the baby peed twice in a row while you were changing his diaper and the pee went all over his diaper rash and he screamed and you screamed--at the other part of the parental unit.

You shouldn't feel bad about that, because you were sustaining another person's life all day, and tonight, you will wake up in vomit. Again.

Anyway, it's spring, and you have a baby, and there are spring birds singing and spring flowers blooming, and you are pretty much convinced, though you know it's silly, that these beautiful spring things are all happening for your baby, because he's so sweet. He's so sweet you don't know what else to say about it, although you think about the chocolate sauce and ice cream you just ate, which was sweet, yes, but not sweet in his way, which is satiny cheeks sweet, and little red lips sweet, and dozing off while eating sweet, and lambs on his nightgown sweet, and soft breath on your shoulder sweet.

You tell him the birds are singing for him and the flowers are blooming for him, and in your world, it's true.


Friday, March 27, 2009

This is totally not what I wanted to say in the first blog entry since Malko was born, but what the hell.

I'm in a totally fucking bad mood. It's 9:26 on Thursday night, exactly almost a week since he was extracted from my stomach, and I wish I felt nicer, more warm and fuzzy and kind towards the world, but everything and everyone is just irritating me. God, what a wonderful loving person I am! I've been, like, Superbitch since Joedy got home this evening.

I know I'm entitled to a little Superbitchiness these days, what with recent surgery and the last few days and nights spent catering to a miniature person whose little gums grab onto my sensitive engorged (sorry, but I had to throw that word in for its sheer hideousness) breasts like hot pinchers, but the last thing I want to do is complain about him or anything having to do with him, so I'm going to stop right here, having vented my bad-moodiness, and move on to something else.

In the last eleven days, I've thought a lot about what the first entry since his birth would be like, and I've wanted so much for it to be special, to be important and meaningful and expressive of all the love I feel for him, to convey all the thoughts I've had since this time last week, all the details about the C-section and the stay in the hospital and the coming home and the first day here and the nights and the breastfeeding and his adorable face and how much I love him, how much I love him, how much I love him--

I've thought so much about this, and wanted so much to write the right entry, the one that wrapped it all up and was perfect, I ended up jinxing myself; I got my expectations too high, and I couldn't really write--I was afraid to. I was afraid it wouldn't say what I wanted it to. So I didn't write, and it made me feel anxious, like I'm losing touch with my blog, like I'm going to let my four (4) readers down, like--most importantly--I'm letting Malko down, because in my head I imagined him reading the (perfect) entry twenty years from now and thinking "Wow, my mommy really loved me! My mommy was totally in love with me, right from the very beginning..."

I have a headache. Joedy has a horrible cough. Lula has attitude. Laurence, who's visiting, fell on the sidewalk and has a sprained ankle. We're all kind of not at our best this evening, but Malko is doing fine. He's lying in his bassinet on the coffee table in his little yellow sleeper suit, with little blue striped socks on his perfect, petite mottled feet, and his hands are resting on either side of his head in the classic I'm-a-contented-sleeping-baby way.

I guess I won't be able to write about everything; I guess this entry won't be exactly how I hoped it would be. But maybe that's ok--things, after all, don't always work out the way we want them to, and babies in particular are good at shaking plans up. I'm starting to think that the first entry since Malko's birth should start with me, his "sweet-tempered mother," complaining about being in a fucking bad mood, because dude, it's real! It's real fucking life! Anyway, I'm not in a bad mood anymore. I just fed him, typing awkwardly with one hand so I could use the other hand to smoosh my gigantic hard boob into a size and shape that would fit in his mouth, and now he's lying on the pillow in my lap making odd little creaks and groans and whimpers, his face contorting in his sleep into sudden smiles and frowns and looks of astonished wonder. In a few hours, I'm going to wake up to the sound of lips smacking somewhere close by, and no, it won't be Joedy eating a plate of linguine but our little milk monster, squirming in excited anticipation at the thought of the Gigantic Boob that will soon magically appear and be presented to his entire face. Personally, I'd be afraid of an off-white orb hovering so close to my head, but he seems to get a kick out of it, and as the moment of contact gets closer utters a ridiculous squawk that very clearly says: "GIVE ME THAT THING!!!"

His eyebrows raise in momentary astonishment and then he settles into a gentle sucking-breathing-swallowing pattern. His tiny nostrils are pressed so close to my skin that I wonder how he's able to get any air at all, but the snuffling sound tells me he is, somehow; his eyes are shut tight in concentration or relaxation, I'm not really sure which; his arms lie limp by his sides, and his little feet stick out of the yellow sleeping suit, one blue striped sock half falling off. I look at him and can't believe he's only been with us for six days, because the love I feel for him is the kind of love you expect to have been building since the time of dinosaurs, since the world began. I kiss his soft brown hair and think how this time together makes all the difficulties--all the bad moods and headaches and coughs and problems--more than worthwhile: it makes them wonderful.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

On Friday when I came home from work and pulled into the driveway, the first thing I heard was Lula's voice exclaiming delightedly over the most recent delivery of baby gear: a box of clothes and other items from Joedy's parents and a car seat and bassinet from my parents.

I walked up the short flagstone path to the front door, which was open, and stepped into a colorful mess of empty packaging, clothes, blankets, the partially-assembled bassinet, teddy bears, wrapping paper, a dog or two, and, in the middle of it all, Lula.

"Look, Maman, look, Joedy! This one has cars on it! This one is awfully cool!"

She held a t-shirt up to show us, then waded through the disarray to the couch, where a stack of clothes was steadily growing. I dropped my backpack to the floor and sank down next to the clothes and Lapis, who was testing a soft blue blanket for its nap-ability, and I spent the whole evening sitting there, watching Lula express her obvious happiness at getting a little brother.

When the excitement of presents (even these practical, not-for-her presents were "so great!") wore off and it got close to bedtime, she gathered a few of the new teddy bears and began to dress them in Malko's clothes; when she'd covered every possible inch of their furry bodies in unmatched and totally ridiculous outfits, she nestled them in the car seat and draped a sheet over them, heads and all. It looked a little morbid to me, but I could see her point: now they could chew--and swallow!--their entire stash of suspiciously damp, dog hair-embellished Bubble Tape in peace, without fear of detection by The Parents.

"Baby, baby" she murmured in a low voice, rocking the car seat and its shrouded occupants, and I was struck by the sweetness in my little girl--my little girl who has been so car/truck/plane/train-oriented, only slightly interested in dolls and only slightly more interested in stuffed animals: she'd play with them in the past, but rarely would they so clearly take on the role of "her charges." It was fun and very touching to witness this display of affection towards the pretend babies, towards the baby brother she'll soon have, and it gave me a taste of the comfort most parents must get from knowing their children are close. It made me even more excited about Friday, when Lula and Malko will meet for the first time--when their relationship, their own special Lula-Malko relationship, will begin.

All weekend Lula displayed her happiness at the upcoming addition to our lives. She was cheerful, funny, animated, and helpful, and even tonight, when a massive organizing/laundry/cleaning operation was under way, and it became evident that "Malko has many more clothes" than she does, her noting of the fact was made without bitterness or resentment--it was just a simple disinterested statement of a fact (ok, maybe not totally disinterested). I'm sure some of the present good-naturedness she feels towards her sibling will wear off, like when her rock collection is turned into slingshot material or when she is beaten every. single. freaking. time. at gin rummy, but for now the horizon is rosy--any future sibling rivalry is far from sight.

Malko is lucky, because his big sister loves him already. Joedy and I are lucky too, for the same reason and many, many more.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Well, here we are, nine NINE NINE days away from the Baby Event. After writing the last entry, I felt bad because I thought I made it seem like I'm very apprehensive about the changes Malko will bring to our lives--that I'm so apprehensive I think I'll need drugs to deal with them.

That is absolutely not true at all! I plan on dealing with the changes with home electro-shock therapy (I hear Target has some great kits).

Yesterday I took Malko's first load of laundry off the drying racks outside, his little pyjamas, jackets, socks, and hats all clean and fresh and kind of wrinkled (Lula had insisted on helping me hang them). The wrinkles made his clothes, and him, seem more real, more human, more part of our everyday lives, and bringing the stack of laundry into the house and setting it on Joedy's and my bed, smelling the outdoor-smell emanating from it (still a nice smell, despite our proximity to the freeway), I felt so excited and happy; soon, the knobby bumps sticking out of my stomach will fill those clothes; soon, we're going to have a new little person in our lives.

There's a part of me that thinks I shouldn't talk too much about being excited and happy, a superstitious side that thinks crowing loudly about how great everything is right now--about how much I'm looking forward to next Friday--is setting myself up for ironic twists that otherwise might not happen. I guess it's good to try not to get one's hopes up, generally, but MY GOD, what could be more hope-inducing than a baby?

Lula is almost five and learning how to spell short words. She's still very cuddlable, and tonight she fell asleep with her fingers in her mouth the way she always does--making that adorable slurping sound that sends me into a state of total relaxation--but she's not baby-like in many other ways, and the thought of experiencing a baby again, of being the mother of a baby again, makes me feel like I'm about to step into a whole new world. I've been to that world before, but things will be different this time: I'm older, I know more, and, most importantly, this baby will probably be very different from the first.

I'm excited about stepping into that world again, about seeing how the colors and the scenery have changed; I'm excited about plunging into this new experience, which will undoubtedly be packed with adventure. Mostly, though, I'm excited about holding Malko--cuddling him in his new little wrinkled pyjamas.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

If all goes according to plan, in twelve days I'll be in the hospital with Malko beside me. I almost thwarted the plan ten minutes ago, while trying to extract some very solidly frozen ice cream from the carton with a very sharp knife; holding the carton steady between one hand and my stomach, it occurred to me that the proximity of the knife to my stomach was looking alarmingly like the beginnings of a home C-section. I had just cleaned the kitchen floor, and didn't want to make another mess with a Do-It-Yourself surgical procedure, so I wisely, sagely withdrew the knife from the ice cream and put the ice cream in the toaster oven, set on High.

The fact that we are soon going to have another child is becoming very real, maybe especially because his crap--I mean, adorable clothes, vehicles, pacifiers, beds, stuffed animals, and books--is already lying around the house, some on its way to the washing machine and some on its way to yet-to-be-determined places in Lula's bedroom. Malko will be sleeping next to Joedy and me, of course, in a bassinet by our bed during the first few months, but ultimately he and Lula will share her room, which means that a thorough sorting of Lula Stuff needs to be done to make way for the Malko Stuff. I was going to tackle her room today, hand-washing her rug and finding a changing table at the thrift store and putting up curtains and, by the way, washing Diablo, who smells like a rancid camel, but guess what? It didn't happen. Instead, I napped. Then I decided to eat some ice cream.

It's real but also surreal to think that in less than two weeks we're going to have another member in our family, and unlike Mic and Mac, the Siamese fighting fish in bowls on the mantle, who are small, yes, but nevertheless very much part of the family, this small family member is going to be very loud at times and quite frankly hard to ignore.

Ok, that didn't sound right at all. What I meant was that he is going to have a very big presence for all his small-sizedness, and his being here, on the outside of my stomach, is probably going to turn a lot of our established habits and routines on their head(s).

Having written that and having tried to think of which established habits and routines are going to be turned on their head(s), I realized that in fact we don't have any established habits and routines. We just kind of do things. So, having a newborn in the house, demanding very vocally to eat and be cuddled and changed and jiggled, might not change that much at all. We'll just keep on doing things. Some of the things might need to be done just as we're (finally) falling asleep, and some in the very middle of the night, and some at the crack of dawn, and some of us might find ourselves getting a wee bit testy at all the extra things we find ourselves having to do, but one of the benefits of having a C-Section is that you get to go home with a month's supply of Vicodin.

Some people might think it's crass and even shocking for a mother to admit to looking forward to having painkillers on hand right after her baby is born. I kind of agree, but you know what? Who cares. There are times when you have to take all the help you can get. And if the help comes in the form of a little white pill that not only soothes the burn of the gash in your gut but also helps you smile at your partner, instead of biting his head off, when he asks if "everything's ok" after you woke up twice in the night drowning in a sea of nightsweat and your melon-sized breasts keep shooting milk into your nostril(s) and the goddamn cat walked on the baby and your other child, the big one, peed in bed, so there are more sheets to wash--

Those little white pills? I'll take them, thank you very much. They'd probably go down better with a Lemon Drop, but--ahem--even this mother thinks that might be pushing things.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

It's 10:06 Sunday night and I'm sitting in the very clean living room smelling chocolate chip cookies that just came out of the oven. Astrid is lying on the couch next to me and Joedy and Lula are in bed; we had a late night, for a Sunday, because we started housecleaning at 3:30 and got carried away with it, tying up the big ficus next to the living room window whose branches are growing this way and that, getting the last of the moldy laundry, left over from the flood, off the garage floor, and generally doing a deep-down thorough scrubbing.

This morning we went to look at some houses we saw on Craigslist, both in Casitas Springs, which is about 15 minutes from downtown Ventura. The houses looked nice in the photos and they were much cheaper than our current place, with more space, etc, but in all honesty I was only half-heartedly interested because the idea of moving, again, to another random rental that we're not going to be in long-term just makes me feel...depressed. A few weeks ago Joedy said to me: "Hey, what would you think of living in Vermont?" There was a job in Burlington he thought he'd apply for, and of course the next day we were all over the Vermont Craigslist, looking at 18th-century farmhouses on 23 acres with lake and mountain views. It wasn't a good idea for Joedy to tell me he would actually maybe be ok with living in Vermont, because guess what? It's all I can think about now. I know I was all pro-Portland, Oregon, a few entries ago, but dude, I would be even way. more. happier. to go live in Vermont.

Maybe it's because I'm pregnant, and getting all nostalgic for my childhood, but there's a strong pull these days for the kind of weather and nature you get in New England: crocuses and tulips and daffodils in the spring; snow and ice, all glittery and fresh, in the winter; phlox lazily nodding in the late-summer sun; the smell and crunch of leaves underfoot in the fall. Thinking about these things, and about giving our kids an experience of the nature that I grew up with in Rhode Island, makes me really, really happy. Ventura feels increasingly wrong to me, maybe because we're close enough to the freeway to hear it day and night, maybe because I feel so isolated from family and friends, maybe because there are so many people and cars and ugly buildings, but also, weirdly, because of the nature: palm trees and winter-blooming jasmine are still great, and I'm sure if we moved to Vermont we'd think longingly of them in late February, but right now year-round summeriness and the attendant flora just isn't doing it for me.

On another note, I think I've more or less gotten this blog where I want it to be.* Besides some annoying shifting-of-elements problems (the header and post section move out of place when I look at the blog from other computers), I'm pretty content with the design and therefore am ready to move on, by golly, and it's about motherfruitcaking time. I've put mobiling and children's-booking on hold the past 2 months and four years, respectively, and now that I have a venue for writing that I like and feel good about, I want to get back into those other creative pursuits. It will be good to be able to stop thinking obsessively about the blog, and I can't wait to work on my other projects. For a long time I've been wanting to work simultaneously on "grown-up writing," children's books, and mobiles, and finally I think I'll be doing that.

Of course, in three weeks we'll have a two-day-old child to care for, so other projects might fall by the wayside a little, but we'll see...

*The cruel irony of life made sure that, on the day I declared "all is well with my blog," it got COMPLETELY screwed up. Motherfruitcaker!! Go to HTMHell, Blog God! Ach himmel, back to square one...