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I got pregnant when I was 42 years old, and I quickly discovered there were two camps when it came to pregnancy over 40: Those that wanted to know how I got pregnant over 40, because they are trying to get pregnant, and those who wanted to know how I got pregnant over 40 so it will never, ever happen to them.

I’ll ruin the surprise for you. It was a surprise. I was completely and utterly, totally NOT trying to have another baby.

I’d always wanted three kids. Three seemed perfect. So my husband, Ned/Thor/Gunnar, aka NTG, and I had baby number one three years into our marriage. A few years later, after a big move and when Max was two, I had to convince NTG it was time for another. (This is not limited to children. I have to convince NTG of most things. He is the opposite of me, The Doer. He’s the Non-Doer.)

We had Andy, and right after, Max received his Autism diagnosis. As you can imagine, our lives changed drastically, raising a child that was on the spectrum, and then raising one that wasn’t.

It was a lot. And NTG didn’t want a third. And the more I watched Max and Andy, the more I thought we’d lucked out. I honestly was afraid if we had another, we would have another child on the spectrum, and that was scary. At the same time, I thought it would be nice for Andy to have another sibling (one that didn’t bully him) and then when he was an adult, there would be someone else to lean on.

I always had a feeling I would have a “surprise.” On top of that, my gut also told me I would have twins. I mean, most women that ever consider becoming mothers also consider what it would be like to have twins. But I just had … something more than a feeling. But after we had Andy, I left it up to fate. Well, as much as I could. I was on birth control.

As women, we all have a “scary” age. A mental line we draw and think, “No, I wouldn’t want to be pregnant then.” That age, for me, was 40, and it came and went with no shock, no twins. Nothing.

It surprised me that parts of that really hurt. I looked up at the Universe and thought, “Well. That’s that.” But I didn’t feel complete, and it seemed everywhere I turned there was some lovely mom I knew in town, or followed on Instagram, who was YAY! PREGNANT! NUMBER THREE! (And not just pregnant with a third, but with a girl.) I was taunted.

On the flipside, it still felt like: If it was meant to happen, it would have happened, right? So I accepted it. I threw myself into work. Into therapies for Max and play dates for Andy. I started really moving out of the labyrinth of motherhood and doing unheard of things like being social, and joining the church council and taking my mother on a beach trip for her 70th birthday.

Awesome, right? In the midst of all of that, the low-dose birth control I was on stopped being effective, so I took a break from it and had The Talk with NTG about our future birth control plans. He wasn’t fond of his options, but my options were far more complicated. And my lovely, husband, the Non-Doer, sat on his option and did the thing Non-Doers do best. Nothing.

Now, I was a good little cycle tracker. I used OTC birth control. But NTG, or me, or both of us are historically very, very fertile. (Up until that point, all three of our pregnancies had happened very quickly.) A few more months go by, and I kept bringing up to my Non-Doer that he wasn’t doing the thing he needed to be doing.

My beloved Walter.

And then, my cat died. (That’s another post). That grief is actually something I still carry with me, because that whole process was interrupted by a little pregnancy test that upended our whole lives. After several solid days of crying, it dawned on me that my period hadn’t started. I actually said to my husband, out loud, “I’ve heard of grief affecting a woman’s cycle, but it’s never happened to me before.”

Ha.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Honestly, I don’t remember why I took a pregnancy test, but it was a week after my period should have begun. I had some in the house, because this was not the first time since I dropped the pill that I had taken one. And each one of those times, instead of being ready to welcome a surprise, I held my breath. Each time the negative result was an exhale.

When this test turned positive, it took a nanosecond. (I now know this is hormones. Lots and lots of extra hormones.)

My first thought was, “My mother is going to kill me.” Honestly, I felt very much like I was a wayward teenager than a 42-year-old married woman. How could this be? How could I do it again? What about my job? Ned/Thor/Gunnar is going to freak out?

But he didn’t freak out. Instead he took the test and said, “Okay. Well, why not us?”

So I called the midwives and made an appointment for the following week. The first would be an ultrasound, and what an ultrasound it would turn out to be.

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Technically, and then there were six? I’m not great with numbers. The long story short is, I’ve been a non-blogging mom for five-and-a-half years (I neglected my professional blog as well, so it wouldn’t feel left out) and a few things have happened. I made a list (I love a good list), and two of them are incredibly important. We’ll start there.

  1. We had twins. Well, we made them, I birthed them. Long story kinda short is: we were not trying to get pregnant. We got pregnant. At around eight weeks I had my first ultrasound (ironically, it would be the first of 9,500,028). The lovely ultrasound tech, who was chatting us up, was the one who told Ned/Thor/Gunnar he would need to sit down, because she had something to show us. That something was two babies. Many weeks later, we made the decision to find out the gender. They were two boys. (That’s a whole ’nuther blog post.)
  2. This means I live in the same house with NTG, Max, Andy, and now Ryan and Ethan. That’s five penii, ladies and gents. Oh my oh my.
  3. I quit my job. In the spirit of the, “OH MY GAWD WE’RE HAVING TWINS!” mentality that was going on around here, early on in the acceptance process I made this decision to help my sanity. I knew how difficult it was to work with two young, active kiddos. Four? FOUR!? No. Nopity, nope, nope. NTG thought I should hang on to it. He’s since changed his mind.
  4. This decision to quit my job, the life event of welcoming more babies into our family, the pandemic, losing loved ones, all of that … what do we call it? Life. Life is what has been happening for five-and-a-half years. And honestly, I don’t know how I swam through all of it. Or how I’m still doing it. I do know it has at times felt very, very heavy.

So I have few stories to share. The birth, the pregnancy, the life with four children. How Max has been doing with it all, and how he is doing in general. Going from being a Stay-at-Home-Working-Mom to a Stay-at-Home-Mom, and what that world is like. I promise to not blog about virtual school, because we all know how THAT is going *eyeroll*. It is a crazy and oddly satisfying mess, for sure. I hope you stay tuned!

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The Fourth Trimester

That is where I have been. Technically, I stayed away from this blog for most of my third trimester as well.

No, I have been in that lovey, beautiful haze of post-babydom with our latest little big man, Andrew Jacob. He cruised into life in mid-August, a week and a half late, weighing in at almost 9 ½ pounds and 22 inches long. That’s my boy. He’s now four-and-a-half months old and weighing in at 17 ½ pounds and 28 inches. Yep, you read that right. Everyone start sending footballs and basketballs.

20130829_221155 (2)

He is beautiful. He has Ned/Thor/Gunnar’s eyes and head and is built like a little linebacker. I can tell already he’s going to be sweet. This time around, things seem to go so much faster and little Drew and I are bonded quite nicely.

This fourth trimester has been like a ferris wheel. Scary, sometimes too fast, and sometimes. Way. Too. Slow. These are my ruminations from the past few months:

Time. There is so little and so much of it. It seems that this first few weeks are so fleeting; little man is reaching all of those milestones—smiling, laughter, cooing—so quickly. And yet, each little tickle is like a discovery, as NTG and I look at one another and wonder, “Did Max do that? When did he first smile?” We shrug and turn our eyes back to the joy of our newborn. He is here now. It fills my days, and yet seems to not be enough of it at all. He rolled over a week or two ago, and NTG was saddened. “It’s all over,” he said.
Sleep. Oh, how I love sleep. In the fourth trimester, sleep is a like a drug really. You crave it, you push it aside, you long for it, you cannot wait for it, you sometimes are overtaken by it before you know what is happening. My favorite moment of the day often is when I climb into bed, the boys are all tucked in and I get watch a little television or read a chapter of … zzzz. It still amazes me how the third trimester leaves us in a bad taste in our mouths when it comes to sleep … it evades us so well. And in an instant, we can now easily find slumber, like it was waiting to snatch us up all along.
Which brings me to patience. Certainly all parents need it, but none more than parents of more than one child, when the youngest has just arrived. Patience seems run right alongside sleep; the more rest mom gets, the more parallel the tank of patience. The less mom has to work, the greater the patience. The easier the schedule, the more I can tolerate Max slamming the pantry door a hundred times in a row. You get the picture.
Letting go. I did a lot of this with Max’s arrival. Housework, making dinner every night (see Cooking), having time to watch television. With two, the second time around letting go is amplified. It’s really leeeetttinnnng gooooo. I cleaned my bathrooms this past weekend and realized I had not scrubbed my sons’ bathroom since before THANKSGIVING. All television watching takes place via On Demand, and if a show is not on On Demand, I dump them. I’m starting to be a shower-at-night girl because morning showers are laughable when you have preschool and an infant in tow.
Cooking. Well, I’m a foodie. Totally. Even in my last month of pregnancy, while I was a giant whale of a person, I managed to cook and fill my freezer for those nights post-baby. After Andrew’s birth, we had meals cooked by my mom. Friends brought dishes and presents for the baby. And then … crickets. Because we live in such a rural area, it’s up to me make sure we eat, since take out option are rare. And kind of scary. I’ve learned once again how much the crock pot is my friend. And make-ahead freezer meals. And cooking double batches and prepping ahead of time. And to stop following recipes altogether.
Love. Yeah, we love the babies. I mean, some people are baby people, and some are not. I’m in the former category. Nothing as perfect as a little baby sighing softly in his sleep. Or how snuggled up he gets while nursing. Or the way he cannot stop himself from having a total giggle fit every time I take off or put on his clothes. Or how he already loves the game where he holds out his hand to my mouth and I pretend to eat his fingers. Better than chocolate, those babies.

And now the light is starting to filter back through the tunnel of the fourth trimester. Work is starting to come in again; Andrew is almost sleeping through the night, although I have yet to adopt his 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. sleep schedule. We’re getting into a groove, and I’m starting to feel that good feeling writers get … I’m ready and at the keyboard.

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Ah, to boob, or not to boob ….

There’s been quite a spree of in-your-face images of breastfeeding as of late, and it’s made me curious as to what is up with the guerilla breastfeeding agenda. I know, I know, I tend to push the “whatever is best for your family” slogan when it comes to motherhood. And I’m about to do it again. Kinda.

First we’ve got the hot button “Mother’s Milk” article from Time magazine (May 2012), and really, I should say, the image is more of the hot button than the article itself. Or is it the headline?

I get that the image is intended to be provocative. I get that attachment parenting encourages breastfeeding well after the first year. I even get that in some way, these images were intent to promote breastfeeding, via starting a more explosive conversation than “Are you going to breastfeed?” But, “Are you mom enough?” Please. Jamie Lynne Grumet (mother on the cover) is not any better at motherhood than me, or you or the next hundred yous.

In contrast to the Time cover photo, the other controversy, found in the image of Terran Echegoyen-McCabe and Christina Luna nursing in uniform, was not intentional according to Echegoyen-McCabe, who told NPR that the images were not meant to become an Internet sensation. The photographs seem to promote breastfeeding, taken of moms in all kinds of situations, and the uniforms merely a way to show that military moms too breastfeed. And yet. Here we are with comments on what is and isn’t appropriate in a uniform. (Re: Showing your breasts is a no-no.)

Brynja Sigurdardottir/Courtesy Terran Echegoyen-McCabe

In my circle of moms, aka friends that all started having kids at the same time, deciding to nurse our newborns was kind of a no-brainer. Yet I have several friends and mom acquaintances that have genuinely tried to nurse and for a myriad of reasons—baby’s tongue thrusting, going back to work full time and not being able to pump enough, babies not gaining enough weight—they quit.

The strange thing to me, about the moms that had to switch to formula, is the majority of them felt the need to keep explaining their rational behind the switch. As if there really is a lording Court of Motherhood transferred from Kate Reddy’s imagination into the real world.

There’s not.

There’s not. The truth is, pretty much every mom I’ve ever met “gets” it. Really. Which is why I take offense to the concept that mothers that do not parent their children via Bill Sears philosophy (me), or breastfeed their children until they’re six, or spend all hours of the day (and night) with their children makes them better parents. It doesn’t.

On the other side of the coin, I’m a total proponent of breastfeeding. And all of this hububalloo, is taking away from supporting moms that may be struggling with breastfeeding. Or ones that don’t want to consider it at all. This whole concept of raising awareness about breastfeeding shouldn’t be about getting the rest of the non-nursing world to start a cheer every time a mom unsnaps her bra. It should be about educating moms about getting started, and encouraging them to continue even when it’s tough.

As for acceptance when it comes to nursing in public, I say eff the haters. In the moment, say a crowded holiday airport, when your baby is hungry and needs to nurse, you’re going to do what is best for your child. And a little flash of skin never hurt anybody.

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It is four thirty in the afternoon, and I am breaking apart peanut butter sandwich crackers and placing the pieces next to my son’s head as he’s lying on the floor, pushing a car back and forth. He reaches immediately for the snack and pops it in his mouth. I smile and walk away, inside doing a mental cartwheel. Yes!

They say that when trying to lose weight, it is not about sticking to a diet, but rather, taking on a healthy eating lifestyle. When you are trying to gain weight, it is the same concept. Except instead of grilled meats and salads life becomes a blur of cheese, dried fruit, peanut butter bread toast cookies, Pediasure, butter and heavy cream.

It’s no joke. We buy a pound of butter every week. Haagen-Dazs ice cream, woman’s most verboten food, is now always in my freezer. I’m making pudding, cookies, muffins, and adding chocolate chips to everything. And yes folks, I’m seeing a nutritionist.

Beside the mental roadblock of what Max is eating, there is the added stressor of getting him, once again, to eat anything. In another twist of parenthood, we have learned that two-year molars do not wait to appear after a baby’s second birthday. Max is teething in full force, which means we’re back to squishing berries, crushing cereal and smooshing bread. Don’t even get me started on the scraping lunch into our booster seat or tossing bowls onto the floor.

On the whole, I am trying to stick to my mantra of keep calm and carry on. But some days, when Max is sitting at dinner, smashing up his green beans with his forefinger and completely ignoring the grilled cheese I’ve made him, it takes everything in me not to try and just stuff it down his throat. Especially when I’m calculating the day’s calories in my head: ½ slice peanut butter toast, ¼ cup of milk, five Cheese Its, ¼ pear ….

Ned will catch my eye and say, “It’s okay. He drank half of his milk.” All I can do is shake my head and say, “It’s not enough.”

So I step it up a notch. I do things that I never thought I would be doing in my relatively clean, normal adult life. My coffee table now holds remnants of peanut butter crackers, raisins, and a cup of milk 24/7. I chase Max around the house with pieces of buttery, syrupy waffle so he’ll take another bite after breakfast. When I put him in the car seat, I don’t hand him a toy, he gets a snack bowl and a sippy cup of milk spiked with cream. After dinner he gets pudding, or cookies, or ice cream and every night, he’s carrying a Pediasure up to bed with him.

And yet. It still doesn’t feel like enough. I mean, I can could offer him brownies every half hour for an entire day. But if he doesn’t eat them, what else can I do?

I have another week before we weigh in again, and I’m seriously contemplating buying a scale so I can see if we’re on track yet. In the meantime, I will contemplate dinner, and pray my menu hits one of the foods Max has approved to eat today.

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Or, as I like to call it: Help! My Toddler Won’t Eat!

Last week, we found out at our 18-month wellness visit that Max, our little superhero, is in the 21st percentile for weight. To be exact, he weighed 23 pounds, 11 ounces, just a little bit more than his 9-month weigh in. So, we made a date with the nutritionist the following Monday.

Now Max was nursing a cold, courtesy of Mommy, plus he is teething, plus he had five shots at the doctor’s office, which meant that weekend, he wasn’t interested in eating a damn thing. We show up to discuss Max’s weight on Monday, and learn that he’s lost half a pound. Way to kick start that conversation, eh?

Now, we’ve already been through the masses of blood tests, back when he dropped weight at a year. So we move on to summarizing Max’s eating habits and getting a recommended list of foods to add to his diet, which includes

  1. One tablespoon of almond, peanut, or cashew butter on toast, bagels, waffles etc.
  2. One ounce of heavy cream per eight ounces of whole milk.
  3. Lots of dips: ranch, dressings, cheese sauce, with dippers like proteins, mini bagels and soft pretzels.
  4. Cream cheese, drinkable yogurt and puddings.
  5. Butter or olive oil on all veggies, breads etc.
  6. Pediasure for the days where he won’t eat a meal.

We also are to add a snack at night, and to try and increase his meat eating. For the next few days, this brings about a whole new shopping/food prepping reality that I’m still adjusting to. I’m checking yogurt shakes (RE: Danimals, Gogurt) to sneak a snack in him before naptime, but they’re all made with lowfat milk; same with prepackaged pudding, totally sans the added calories of whole milk. I’m giving him Tagalongs as snacks, the peanut-butter-filled Girl Scout cookies, because they’re an awesome 70 calories a pop. I’m smearing butter on everything, and making full crockpots of stew meat and pulled pork so he has some consistent meat choices.

And yet. He won’t eat.

At the most, he’ll snack on dry cereal and raisins and occasionally eat a slice of toast or a few tablespoons of peas. He’ll drink milk and some Pediasure. And for the past two days, running a low fever, I can’t even get him into the high chair.

We have tried a litany of excuses and suggestions for this new behavior, which began 12 days ago after his visit to the pediatrician. He’s teething. He’s running a fever. He’s trying to exude control. He’s not feeling well. He’s getting over the shots.

We also have tried adjusting mealtime behavior: from high chair to booster seat, at the table; not praising nor scolding him for eating/not eating; giving him smaller portions of food; remaining nonchalant during meal time.

Some days, I am so angry I cannot see straight. I literally have to walk away from the table, because it makes every neuron in my brain explode when he doesn’t eat. French toast? No. Pulled pork? No. Buttered corn? No. Grapes? No. Just no no no no no to everything that he once ate with vigor. Thank god we haven’t taught him how to say the word yet.

In discussing this with other moms that are dealing with similar issues, we find it’s the exhaustion of not finding a solution to the issue. It’s exhausting exuding so much effort and energy into preparing food that our toddlers turn their nose up at, or worse, squish it in their little baby fists. It’s wondering what to do now, when the problem isn’t just that they won’t eat, but that they need to gain weight, not contribute to losing more of it.

At the end of our conversations, we tell one another the same thing. “Keep calm, and carry on.” So for now, I shall.

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Last Tuesday, our morning started with this:

Little Max was done with a diaper change and Ned watched him run into his bedroom, trip, and eat a face full of rocking chair. We went off to the pediatrician’s office to get him checked out, crossing our fingers that he didn’t need stitches. (Sidebar: We learned the hard, expensive way that most trips to the ER for cuts and whatnot result in no stitches, but instead just a $100 copay for the visit. And nurses goo-ing over our son.)

Luckily Max is tough, tougher than Mommy, I think. The day before his tumble we were at the peds office to see a nutritionist, reason being that our most recent wellness visit revealed that Max has only gained one pound since we left Florida in November. Which in the battle against his weight loss during month nine to month 12, we’re back to his original 9-month weight.

All of this is compounded with a giant immunization/Hep B shot cocktail given at his wellness visit, which basically causes Max to completely lose his appetite for the four days prior to our nutritionist meet and greet. We show up for that appointment to learn he’s lost half a pound over the weekend.

Top that off with the barrage of questions at our first talk with our new doctor. Is he able to stack blocks? Yes. Throw toys? Max had just thrown my newly-found sunglasses across the room mere moments before. That’s a yes. If you ask him to locate body parts, say his nose, will he point to it? Well, he puts his finger in his nose, does that count? Does he know at least seven words? Um, not all at once. Does he say “mama” and “dada”? Not directly to us, no.

At the end of this the doc looks at me and says, “Okay, well, be sure to work with him on that.” Hmm … maybe I should be working on a new doctor. By the time we hit up the nutritionist and then Mikey hit up the chair, I was at the end of my momma rope. What am I to do to fix all of this?

The lovely Kelly Ripa always tells this great joke, about how when you take home a new flatscreen television, you get a user manual thick enough to rival War and Peace, but when you take home a baby, they give you a single sheet of paper. Darn it, right about now, I wish there was a Mommy Manual.

I know that you can’t predict the health and development of every baby. I know I can’t prevent all trips and falls, and I know there is danger in comparing each child to an imaginary “normal” and wondering if he’s falling behind. Why doesn’t he have a giant vocabulary? Ned and I are both academics. Why doesn’t he say “yes” and “no” and “good-bye”? Why doesn’t he know where his nose is? (Actually, I think he does know, but he’s smart enough to know he doesn’t have to tell us if he doesn’t want to.)

I’m not going to lie; I’m completely freaked out that he’s not gaining weight. He’s growing, he’s in the 91st percentile for height. But clearly, his eating habits are not working. And it’s too much to cover in just 500 words. So we’re taking notes from the nutritionist, starting to use some developmental tools and hopefully making some progress, soon to be reported in future blogs, as I start writing my own Mommy Manual.

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The Mom Shame Game

I am unhappy to be writing about my latest rite of passage in motherhood: my first official look of disdain from another mother.

Max and I were at our very enjoyable music class (Loudoun County libraries rule) and Max was having his usual behaviors at the opposite end of the room from me …. Emptying the basket of scarves instead of dancing with them, finding the one cabinet in the corner of the room with a broken lock, not wanting to put his music sticks away …. Normal stuff for him and rightfully so; he’s young, exploring and just learning how to communicate.

When it came time for the pile of rattles, shakers and bells, I see Max across the way, trying to remove one of a pair of yellow rattles from the hand of another mom, who is sitting on the floor with her three-year-old daughter in her lap. The daughter, nonplussed about my son’s lack of boundaries is just sitting there, while her mother is firmly and then with great annoyance, trying to get my son off her rattle. I’m pretty sure I heard her utter a, “Goodness. Stop it!”

By the time I get to them, Max is crying, ’cause this momma is not giving up that toy. I try to comfort him and say something lame like, “Toddlers. What’s mine is mine.” I smile. She glares. That look of, I cannot believe you have not taught your son about sharing! or perhaps it was a, I am not here to discipline your son! Whatever, it was not nice. I turned and took a step away, to meet the lovely librarian, waiting with a pair of rattles for Max. We went back to our spot, he shook them for thirty seconds, and they got tossed back on the floor.

All this time, I’ve been operating on the idea that younger children rule it. This particular group was for zero to four years of age, so I assume that the little ones that aren’t socialized yet get the right of way. Would it have killed this mom to give up a rattle and pluck another one out of the basket a mere two feet over away? Was I supposed to offer up an embarrassed apology that my son, not yet a year and a half old, did not relinquish his desire for a shiny yellow rattle? Did said mom have to throw me the look of annoyance?

I mean really, just the day before; a total stranger handed over his smart phone to my toddler and let him run around with it for ten minutes, despite my embarrassment and attempts (two) to remove the phone from a giggling Max. That guy clearly knew nothing about little kids (except they’re cute, and they really love technology). This mom had two children, including a son that was just old enough to start walking and had been crying throughout the entire class. Shouldn’t she get it?

“Getting it” is one of the joys of having relationships with other moms. If we go to a play date, I don’t have to worry if I forgot to refill my travel pack of wipes. I will sit with two babies in high chairs while the other mom picks up our sandwich order. We automatically reach down for a thrown toy, no matter who’s kid threw it. It’s that kind of shared mom intimacy that is so awesome; clearly, that rattle-hoarding mom is missing out!

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Poop in the Purse

It’s 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, and I’m cursing under my breath, frantically driving toward my house to pick up a prescription for blood work for my 12-month-old son. The prescription is sitting on my kitchen counter, not in my purse, which is where I prefer to have said prescription when walking into the wait-an-hour-for-service laboratory.

Oh, and there’s poop in my purse.

Let me start from the beginning, well before the poop. (Yes, I am aware that there is poop in my purse. I put it there.)

When my son Max was born, he was an eater from the get-go. Kid ate and ate and ate. He left the hospital weighing 7 lbs., 7 oz., and at his first doctor’s appointment he was up to 11 lbs. We started him on rice cereal right around four months old, because he was so darn hungry every night. People would comment on how he was “so solid.” My family was relieved that we were indeed well on our way to raising a giant. My husband was all, “That’s my boy!”

So imagine my surprise when we go for our one-year check up and the nurse tells me his weight, “21 ½ pounds.” She checks the chart. What? No … that’s impossible. The doctor makes her get out the infant scale. We re-weigh him. The digital scale reads: 21.7. Shit.

Max hasn’t just not gained weight, or plateaued as many new creeping/crawling/standing/walking babies do between nine months and 12 months. Max has lost weight. About two and a half pounds.

So we go through the litany, What is he eating? Any changes in behavior? Loose stools? We should run some tests. And we do. And the first round results in more inconclusive questions and a definite his protein count is low.

And I, supermom extraordinaire, am devastated. Are we not feeding him enough? How much is enough protein? Should we try and feed him more times per day? Is he losing developmentally as well? Is there something serious going on?

So in addition to blood work, they want a stool sample. In the office, the doctor handed me this teeny padded envelope, which has her office address on it and tells me the instructions are inside, and that it “should be easier because he’s in diapers.” Um, okay. I have put off the sampling process until the night before our second visit to the cattle-call needle place.

I tell you this story because it’s too funny not to tell. It also helps lighten the there-could-be-something-wrong-with-my-baby moment. So I open up the package, and in it is a little cardboard envelope, a four- by three-inch piece of paper with instructions, two wooden sticks and two folded-up sheets of tissue paper.

I realize pretty quickly that the folded up tissues, which are huge when you unfold them, are for, um … adult-size samples. Indeed, the instructions read, “1. Remove backing from tissue; adhere to top of toilet seat. 2. Defecate on tissue.”

Whoa. What? (I mean really. Isn’t tissue a little weak in the overall strength department to hold the uh, result of said defecation? Why don’t you get a bigger envelop with like, a plastic baggie or something?) My second reaction was, Thank you, god, I am not doing this poop test for myself.

I figure out that the sticks are for the actual samples, and the little cardboard envelope is to put the samples in. So I’m in the bathroom, with two separate diapers filled with my son’s very adequate defecations, poking at each one with its assigned stick four freakin’ times each (cause that what the instructions demand), and then transferring what’s on the stick to the little opening n the cardboard … all while trying not to inhale. It can’t get any worse, right?

Until this particular morning, when I gather up my courage, my son, and the poop and head off to the lab, hoping there isn’t a giant line and planning to stop by the post office afterwards to mail off the poop samples. And the moment I walk in the super-duper crowded lobby and start signing us in I realize: The ‘script is sitting on my kitchen counter.

Which brings us to now, me racing home to get this ‘effin, stupid piece of paper, hitting every read light, with a baby in the backseat happily trilling and singing away, unaware that he’s about to be stuck with a needle for about four vials of blood and then there’s me, mentally planning when to release the poop into the wild and I just have to start laughing. Because the truth is, I’m no stranger to poop in the purse. I have a cat. But at least for the cat, the whole procedure is: Scoop. Plastic bag. Done.

As it turns out, when we return to the evil lab lair (45 minutes later) I go to sign us in again and ha! They never called our name from our first appearance that morning. So we sat, and ten minutes later, we were called. Which at first seems like we should be celebrating, but then the reality of needles sinks in and I just hope Max doesn’t have any residual memories of his blood work days.

Turns out Max is fine. Almost fine. He’s gaining weight again, and has a mild anemia issue. We’ve got two weeks until our next laboratory trip. Sans poop.

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Supermom!

Supermom n. a mother who successfully manages a household and cares for her children while holding a job or being active in her community.

I didn’t think I would become a supermom. It’s a funny term, I think, in that most supermoms don’t think of themselves as heroic, or “super.” They mostly just focus on doing their job, taking care of their families. They just happen to be doing many different things at once.

I know a lot of supermoms like this … many of whom, like me, work from home. Recently my publisher asked me, “How do you do it all?” Which is ironic, because this was mere moments before I went to see I Don’t Know How She Does It. (SJP helps me do it all! I must admit, some days SJPs voiceovers help narrate my day.)

Inherently, the problem with Supermom is the need/desire/want to do it all, and to do it all by ourselves. It’s a fine line between awesome life juggler and whiny silly martyr. So when do we ask for help?

Many of my girlfriends here in Florida, the land of the displaced, are in the same family boat. Little to no family nearby, very young or first children, trying to figure out how to work, stay home and balance life with our families. So when I need an extra hand, who better understands? But at the same time, I feel guilty, knowing that in order to help me, said supermom friend is actually cutting way into her own super schedule.

And my recent absence from this blog, due to an upcoming move out of state, leaves me even more in the lurch than ever before. Can I work, mommy, wife, clean out a house and manage the details of a huge move. In four weeks?

So I did what any good supermom would do. I hired the teenager from across the street to come over and play with Max for a couple of hours a few times a week. Today is her first visit. And in typical supermom fashion, I immediately start listing. Clean the spare bathroom, clear off the dining room table, clean up the toys? Clear table before babysitter gets here. Oh, and fold the laundry. No, just grab the vacuum, some plastic bags and head straight for your walk-in closet. Or maybe we should call the property manager first ….🙂

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