September 2010


Posted by Duff

It’s been on my mind lately that amidst the day-to-day of parenting, the applesauce on the ceiling, the crayon on my jeans, the four-year-old who leaves the bathroom door open and runs interference while the 16-month old moves a stool to the vanity and uses my waterproof mascara to paint the door trim, a little of the who-I-used-to-be gets lost in translation.

It’s nothing new. When I think about how little I know of my parents pre-me, it makes sense. Young kids aren’t all that interested in the used-to-be-cool people who clean up after them and chisel their moral backbones with sweat and tears. It’s the natural order of things.

So, Dervish, Atticus, here are some things you may never know about your old lady:

I didn’t always pluck my eyebrows. The fact that I started made your existence far more probable. You can thank me (and Nana Bear, who first forced the tweezers on me) later.

I once stood between Joey Ramone and Howard Stern in the balcony of Hammerstein ballroom watching a Marilyn Manson concert. None of that, by the time you can read this, will mean anything to you. You can wikipedia all of those names, and the absurdity of it will still stand.  It was absurd the night it happened. Already, it’s not nearly as cool now as it was that night.

I used to be able to bounce quarters off my body.  It’s not your fault that I can’t anymore, it’s mine. 

I used to see sunrise from the other side. A lot.

I’ve lived and visited lots of places other than my hometown, even if the three of us will have an elementary school in common.

I once wrote songs that I performed in front of hundreds of people. Not thousands, but some. I know that seems unlikely when I’m navigating a car-cart through the grocery store.

I used to be afraid of the dark. Now I have to pretend I’m over it.

I once wore skinny jeans, in the 80s. It’s a dark time in my fashion history that I’m not ready to revisit, in vogue or not.

And the scariest part? Kids, by virtue of breathing, you’re already rushing toward the other side of the target market. As cool as you will become, you can’t beat the cycle. Your own children will one day view you as a dinosaur, whether you subscribe to the latest trend in hair or heel or hem.  They will only know the person you show them. And if that person doesn’t include who you used to be? You’ll get over it.

Posted by Duff

Real conversation between me and The Dervish:

Dervish: Once upon a time there was a girl named Molly Bobolly. No, her name was Frisbee Light. No. I don’t know what her name was.

Me: Well, you can decide that later. And what did she do?

Dervish: Then she decided to…she…I don’t know what she did.

Me: That’s the beauty of it. You’re telling the story. She can do anything you want. Anything.

Dervish: I can’t. I don’t know how the story goes. (sighs)

I hear you, kiddo. Just keep at it; get it out and fix it later. Something will come to you.  I know you’ve got a story to tell.

Posted by AVM

You and I?  We’re in a fight.  Why?  Because you lied to me. 

The myth of childhood devilishness is called “The Terrible Two’s.”  Moms the world over (it seemed anyway) told me about these twos that are terrible.  Liars.  The lot of you.  It sounded like a believable story when I was cuddling my newborn, or getting big wet kisses from my one year old.  Then Lovey went through her two’s, and I thought, Hmmm, that wasn’t so terrible. I can honestly say that Lovey’s three’s have been the most challenging so far.  Here she stands on the precipice of her fourth birthday, and I can only hope for calmer waters.  She IS the girl with the little curl.  When she’s good she’s very, very good, but when she’s bad. . . holy hell.  I’m exaggerating a bit, of course, but sometimes I know she’s just disagreeing just to disagree.  I love this kid to pieces, but, man, someone gave her my instruction manual and she’s been stuck on the chapter that tells her how to raise my voice.  All I know is that one of my friends calls this next year “The F@&%king Fours.”  Can’t wait!

It gets easier, doesn’t it?  Lie to me!

Posted by Duff

Because raising two kids isn’t hard enough, I’ve decided (well, my husband and I have decided by our failure to make a decision) to raise the stakes.

This second time around, we didn’t babyproof.

Before you think that I’m putting my child at risk, I’m not. I’m putting myself at risk. Of a temper tantrum. All stairs are gated or behind closed, locked doors. All outlets are covered. All solvents and choking hazards have been moved to cabinets unreachable, even to me, without a chair. I’m talking about everything else: pots, pans, paper and melanine plates; plastic spoons; fruit cups; tupperware; napkins (damned irresistable lazy susan) And of course, on my forgetful days, that holy grail: toilet paper.  And more. So, so much more that I can’t think of, but Atticus can. And he can find any of it in seconds. Add to that a four year old Dervish who is part raccoon (think birthday candles, clothespins, stickers, you name it) and entices the little guy around the house like a honey-blond pied piper, and basically, I’m screwed.

As if powerwashing the high chair three times a day (make that five, I forgot snacks) or wiping noses and heinies (with love, of course, because they are sweet noses and heinies) wasn’t enough. I like to keep myself guessing.

I don’t recommend our method. I don’t want to tell you how much time I spend cleaning up the same things, and it’s my own fault, as much as I’d like to blame it on lack of short-term storage. There is, after all, an entire row at baby stores dedicated to cabinet locks.

And no, I won’t be posting a picture, because I still have a few friends who think my house is clean. The truth is, it’s not clean. I just spend a lot of time cleaning.

I don’t have to tell you the moral of this story.

Posted by Fitz

At Sweet Pea’s 2-week well visit, her pediatrician noticed a tiny red pinprick over her right eyebrow.  “It’s probably nothing,” she said.  “Likely just an offshoot of the stork bite on her eye.  But we’ll keep an eye on it just in case.”

From that moment on, I kept my eye on it, all right.  It was impossible not to.  That miniscule little dot blossomed, angrily, into a small, violent red, veiny mountain of blood vessels clustered under Sweetie’s skin.  It is a hemangioma, and as another pediatrician so aptly noted, “unfortunately placed”.  They are different on every child, and you don’t really know how it will grow.

Everyone we spoke to and all of the research we did told us the same thing: unless the hemangioma is very, very close to the eye or infiltrating into other organs, there is no treatment.  They are birthmarks quite common in fair skinned babies, and they go away on their own…sometime between 2-7 years depending on the case.  I’ve seen them before in other kids, have watched them go away over time, and never in a million years thought they diminished a child’s beauty. 

But…as you all know, it’s different when the child is your own.  It’s different knowing it will go away, but seeing the fierce and volcanic-looking growth on your gorgeous child’s face – Sweetie’s was getting more prominent and protruding by the hour, it seemed.  It’s different when an average of 4.2 people ask you “What happened to the baby?” every single time you’re out and about with her.  It’s different wondering if it really will go away by age 2 or 3 or 7, or if your little girl will be the subject of cruel childhood taunts. 

Early on, we got to the point where we were resigned that there was nothing we could do, and stopped even seeing it when we looked at our happy, super content Sweetie.  She’s all blue eyes and gummy smiles to me, and I had made peace with the fact that we’d have to answer the same annoying question over and over to annoying strangers.  One day, though, something magical happened.

My pediatrician took another look at the hemangioma during Sweetie’s 2.5 month well visit, and recommended that we make an appointment with a specialist at Yale.  “He’s the god of hemangiomas,” she said.  “He might not be able to do anything, but at least you know you’ll have exhausted your options.”  It took awhile to get an appointment, understandably, but we found ourselves in his office late last week when he said the words that I didn’t dare to dream: “We can fix this.”

While the “no treatment is best” is really the rule for hemangiomas, our Sweet Pea’s was still in a major growth mode and beginning to stretch the skin – he was worried that, left untreated, she would need cosmetic surgery to fix it.  So he recommended a course of blood pressure medication that required a 24-hour sojurn at Yale New Haven Hospital and about 7-9 months of treatment.  We packed our bags, headed to the pediatric ward that evening, and spent the next day waiting to see how Sweetie tolerated the meds.  She charmed every last doctor, nurse, and orderly in the hospital, laughing through her exams and cooing when being observed.  The meds didn’t phase her, and lo and behold…we noticed a difference in the hemangioma after just one dose of the good stuff.  Now it’s three days later, and I’d say it is reduced by at least 30, if not 40 percent.  It’s going to go away completely…and much faster than we thought.

Now, I know that we were the luckiest people in that pediatrics ward – no one was sick, in danger, or threatened in any way.  I know that Sweets would be fine if we hadn’t found this treatment at all, and that the hemangioma would have gone away on it’s own.  But I didn’t know that this treatment existed (it has only been around for 2-3 years, and we are the 11th patient that the specialist has used it on).  So I share this with you all in case you know someone who is experiencing something similar, who might benefit from the same treatment that is helping my little girl. 

I would love my Sweets no matter what she looked like, and in fact have been madly in love with her since the second I knew she was on her way.  I would do anything for her, and will always strive to minimize anything that might cause her distress.  I’m thankful for the specialist and for a pediatrician who knows when to refer you to someone else – and am grateful for all of their help.

Posted by Duff

As part of this growing experience called CAE, last week, my husband and I took The Dervish for an MRI. Just to rule a few things out, they tell us. Let’s be honest, since I make a policy of it here: when you cross the sky walk into the beautiful new cancer center affiliated with a renowned hospital, your mind does a terrified tango with those few things to be ruled out.

You might say, “Is that floor marble?” Because your feet pass over a  shiny speckled path like those seen in the casinos our state is becoming famous for, and the water wall and floor-to-ceiling windows can almost make you forget where you are when you move from the waiting room to the atrium.

But there are still gurneys. And for every poker-faced medical expert who walks through the revolving  doors into their everyday with a fresh coffee and hair still damp from a shower, there is someone like me, for whom this day feels anything but ordinary. And, as I saw, there are people who have it way, way worse.

Thank you to Bridget, the sweet nurse not assigned to our case, but whom The Dervish adopted in the hallway (You’re beautiful, she told Bridget. I love you). Bridget, who made small talk with me after The Dervish chose her Daddy to take her to anaesthesia and I was left to wonder what it looks like when your child goes under. What it feels like to watch. And my husband, who has seen a lot, still won’t tell me.

It’s no big deal, you know. Kids are put under all the time. They get tubes or need bones set. And in our case, nothing invasive occured. There was nothing to heal from, and although expected to be drowsy upon awakening, The Dervish was moonbounce-ready after a few crackers and some apple juice.  And now it’s over, except for the results, which I should have in a few hours. Results, they tell me, they expect to be good. But although they tell me this, and I think I’m fine, I just did a load of laundry and forgot the soap. So.

After all that, the MRI was normal.

But I never, never want to walk in and see my child unconscious on a gurney again. Once was enough to put me in touch with fragility: mine somewhat, since she is and has been a trooper through all of this (she woke up ready to punch fight before smiling), but if I’m honest with myself, and with you, its hers I’m most worried about.

And we all know that worry never goes away. It’s an occupational hazard.

Posted by Duff

It was two years ago this week that I learned I was pregnant with Atticus.

Through the magic that is live chat, a friend of mine in another office, miles away, encouraged me to take the pregnancy test I’d bought on my lunch break.  It sounded ridiculous enough to be a good idea, and I made haste to the only private bathroom in the building, typically shared by only two women among many men with offices in that wing.

I didn’t think the result would be positive that day; it was too early. I didn’t think about what I’d do with the packaging (open trash can, both of those two women assuming the other had taken the test) or the test itself, and I tucked everything into the waist of my pants and walked awkwardly, with the plastered smile of an ecstatic idiot, back to my office.

When will we know? my friend asked.

We know now, I said.

And as much as I knew, I knew nothing about him, except that if all went well, I’d meet him in May.

I had no idea that he’d cut teeth in groups of four and eight, that he’d talk in his sleep, loudly, for months, before he could talk, that he would be part gentle bear, part thundering caveman, that I’d be able to tell early on that he’d be a winker–you can just see these things in a leprechaun.

And I didn’t know that there would be nights, a few sprinkled among many, when he’d lie in bed a long time talking (happily) before falling asleep, maybe thinking about his day, maybe just listening to the sound of his own baby voice. And when it seemed to go on too long, I’d peek in, and he’d welcome me, to touch my face softly with both of his growing-up-too-fast hands, look in my eyes, pat my hair, and hug me tight.

As if he were tucking me in.

I didn’t know any of those things that day. And I’m glad I didn’t. Because I would have been even more impatient to meet him, more scared when I had pre-term contractions, and less knocked flat on my nose by the slow, sweet undoing of getting to know my son.

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