Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Next Generation

I neglected to mention that the reason I even knew about Catherine being home was that Little Sis called me yesterday just after noon. I happened to be home to take the call because my Punkin Boy had a raging fever and miserable sore throat. That tiny little voice croaking "Mama" is about the most pathetic thing I've ever heard.

My sister's exhaustion coming over the phone lines was pretty close, though. With Baby C. only taking an ounce of formula at a time, the feedings are pretty near constant. And with her husband in school (though taking some time off work), Little Sis hardly has any time to herself. I might have said, "Welcome to motherhood"; I might have just thought it. Poor sweetie. But I'm sure she got the message, as I gave my little man a sip of awful medicine, carried him (all 31 pounds of him) protesting to his room and put him in the crib, tried to determine whether he wanted a pillow, a book, or a stuffed animal in with him ("NO!" to each), murmured soothing words, kissed him on the head, and shut the door behind me, trying not to be influenced by his hoarse, impassioned wails.

We discussed her discovery of what a pain all the doctor appointments and paperwork and so on can be with a new baby, and how crazy it is to have to deal with all that stuff on 4 hours of sleep. (Four hours! What I would have given some days to have that to look forward to!) She wonders when she'll ever have the chance to scrapbook again. (I think there'll be a period between "sleeping through the night" and "crawling everywhere" when she might have a chance. In my kids, these phases didn't overlap.) I figure she hasn't missed enough sleep yet if her question isn't "When will I ever get to shower and brush my teeth on the same day again?"

But you know what? I found myself wishing I could just leave someone else in charge at my house for a while and fly out to be with her right now. When she was the baby at our house, I spent a lot of time holding her, feeding her, changing her, rocking her, cleaning her spitup off my clothes... Now I hear her crying; I want to go to her and hold her and fix her problems and tell her everything will be OK. But we're grown up now, and I can't. We each have to take care of our own babies. But everything will be OK. Really.

Monday, August 29, 2005


Baby Catherine is officially home!

Little Sis (seen here with Baby C.) called me this afternoon. She sounded exhausted and admitted it was the case. Catey still isn't eating much at each feeding, so she needs more feedings than the average newborn. Result: no sleep for parents. I somehow felt the need to "commiserate" by recalling how little sleep I'd gotten with my babies. I mentioned that at least she can call on relatives in the area if she needs help. My poor sleepy sister just laughed. Those friends and relatives invaded her house all day yesterday and kept her from getting any sleep at all. Ah, the joys of having a newborn.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Tell Me Again Why I Do This

So it's approaching 11 p.m., and my husband is goofing around on the computer-- reading comics, blogging, and generally rubbernecking on the information superhighway. I'm parked on the couch banging away at my work on the laptop-- answering email, editing, checking how our latest survey is doing... I look over to see what he's up to, and he mentions that he'd like to get to sleep soon (hint, hint). Well, isn't that nice.

I stifle the inevitable surge of resentment that I always feel when I'm reminded that I have to work when other people don't and I almost never have a spare moment to even collect my thoughts, much less do anything with them. (And yes, I am taking time off from work, officially, to post this blog.) No, that doesn't bother me this time because I have the Mother Instinct and I know how to use it.

"Did you do your homework?" I ask innocently, knowing full well he blew it off.

"It's not due until Friday," he replies. We both know that he has to finish reading a certain Greek tragedy, plus a chapter each of two seriously heavy science classes. He got through the first half of the tragedy during last night's study session.

I give a heavy sigh that my sisters would recognize as belonging to our mom. "So you'll end up doing it all tomorrow night after the kids go to bed?" I ask, not at all innocently.

He fumes, sputters angrily, then picks up his backpack and retreats into the bedroom. He's still there. Probably reading comics.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Why Adoption Sucks

How's that for a conversation starter? Actually, I am all for the concept of adoption-- the matching up of children whose biological parents can't or won't raise them with adoptive parents who will and can and want very much to do so. I'm even more in favor of it because my little sister and her husband (married now nearly 10 years) are unable to produce biological offspring and have been trying desperately to adopt from a local agency. Either of them would be a better parental unit than any couple I know, and that's saying a lot.

But the whole adoption process sucks.

A few years ago, they had a near miss with a baby boy. The birth mother was healthy but unmarried, uneducated, and unready for the commitment of motherhood. Her current boyfriend wasn't the child's father and didn't want to raise "some other guy's kid." Good enough: The girl selected my sweet sister and brother-in-law to raise her precious child, despite pressure from her family to keep the baby anyway. She gave birth, everything went well, the new parents drove to the hospital (a couple hundred miles away) to pick up their new sweetheart-- and the girl changed her mind. At the very last possible second, she backed out, caved in to the pressure. I could have killed her. It very nearly killed my sister.

I don't know what it takes to give up a baby you have grown inside your body for most of a year. I could never do it. But my babies were intentional; we wanted them in our family with all our hearts. They were a commitment we will honor all our lives. It would be incredibly hard to commit to give away a baby, even knowing that this would be best for all involved. It would be so hard. But I still sometimes feel violently angry at the person who broke my precious little sister's heart. I still remember when she was the sweet, beautiful baby.

Now this wonderful couple, after more years of prayers and anguish, has been selected again by a birth mother to raise a lovely baby girl. This one was determined to place her baby for adoption; being adopted herself (and only 15), she felt it was the right thing to do. Things went well again, and Baby Catherine was born last week, mainly healthy but lacking one little thing: the ability to eat. She's been fed through a tube for the past 6 days in the NICU, and her new parents were able to visit once to see her, hold her, even take pictures. (She is so beautiful!) But the birth mother has left the hospital without signing the adoption papers; she said she won't until the baby is healthy and can leave too. She's not answering her phone, and nobody seems to know where she is. But because Little Sis and her man aren't the legal parents of Baby Catherine yet, they're not allowed to be with her or even find out much about what's happening to her. And the social workers can't seem to do anything for them-- or for that sweet little baby lying helpless and hungry in the hospital.

So they wait by the phone, hoping. Praying. Crying. Praying some more. Dear God, please...

Adoption is hell.

Watch Your Language, Little Man

Punkin Boy was so angry about parental restrictions the other day that he started cussing-- toddler-style:

"Aww, man! Dang! Jeez!"

The Man and I almost managed to hide our faces from him before we burst out laughing. For a moment, I knew what it was like to parent a teenager.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

(Not Quite 101) Things About This Week

  • Everybody but me starts school on Monday.

  • My boys are insanely revved up about this.

  • I'm no longer 37-- does that mean I am old?

  • I haven't watched Monty Python in a very long time.

  • My new niece was born on the 17th-- the fourth girl in our family to have a birthday this week.

  • We are so excited about baby niece's arrival-- my sweet little sister and her husband have been waiting for eons for someone to let them adopt.

  • The last person in our office who knew anything about admin stuff is no longer working for us.

  • They offered him one of the jobs vacated by our really awesome (but now former) editorial assistants, and he laughed at what they were willing to pay.

  • He was our intern.

  • The other intern left after only a month.

  • We are so hosed.

  • Nobody in management seems to care.

  • The rest of us are on the verge of quitting, too.

  • Even if the PHB knew, she wouldn't care.

  • She might hold the door for us.

  • Did I mention that we're hosed?

  • I got diamond earrings and a couple of fat checks for my birthday.

  • My family loves me, and that's all that matters.

  • But diamond earrings are pretty darn good to have.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I'm Here!

OK, just so you know: I'm back from St. Louis, I had a good birthday and anniversary, my husband is awesome, my kids are mostly healthy, I'm having bloody awful migraines, and I will write again soon. Much to do, no time at all.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

And you...

Purple Elephant passed this meme to me a couple weeks ago, and I'm finally getting around to posting it. I've seen it around the blogosphere before, and felt tempted to do it then, but I was waiting till a day when I was wearing the red velvet pants-- er, trousers-- that I'm so fond of. But nevermind. I'll get this over with now.

The Meme of Three
Three things you like about yourself:
My eyes
My brain
My singing voice (on occasion)

Three physical things you don't like about yourself:
My fat
My chemical imbalances
The aches and pains all over

Three things that scare you:
Dying before my husband can take over supporting the family
My children dying before I do
People who don't understand why I don't want my children to be around child molesters

Three of your everyday essentials:
My husband and kids

Three things you are wearing now:
Black pearl ring
Cat-eye glasses
Burgundy top with a flattering neckline

Three of your favorite bands or musical artists:
Duran Duran
Tom Lehrer
Joan Jett

Three things you want in a relationship:

Two truths and a lie:
I have as many children as my siblings put together.
I was pregnant four times in the first 5 years of my (current) marriage.
I like Brussels sprouts.

Three physical things that turn you on:
Dark hair
Deep, intense eyes
Slender, sensitive hands

Three of your favorite hobbies:

Three things you really want to do right now:
Write 15 pages on my novel
Be pain-free
Read all night-- something totally fluffy

Three careers you'd consider:
Literary Agent
Full-time mom

Three places you want to go on vacation:

Three things you want to do before you die:
Get The Man through college
Have a book published
Raise my boys to treat females respectfully

Three people to pass it on to:
The three people in the blogosphere who haven't done this one yet, whoever you are. Fuhzzy? Kory? Bueller??

Quotes of the Day

I love that my kids enjoy Dr. Seuss; reading those books tickles me just in the right spot: my thesaurus. Here are some favorite quotes from the stories Pirate Boy picked out for bedtime reading tonight:

"I will not, will not with a goat."

"I'll blow you," he said, "into pork and wee beans. I'll butter-side-up you to small smithereens!"

The Butter Battle Book became even funnier to me when I discovered that people in England during WWII were encouraged to eat their bread with the butter side down to help them taste the meager amount they could afford to spread on it. Well, OK, not funnier; it actually made more sense, which isn't always the point. But I see it all in a new light. And that's fun.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Comfortably Numb

I can tell the time by my pain level-- if I take the meds right. My afternoon dose of narcotic is due just in the middle of several of my weekly meetings. As you can imagine, this can be a bit awkward, especially when (as this week and last) the PHB is visiting and sitting in on everything. Today went something like this:

12:58 p.m.: I'm starting to feel a little achy in the base of my spine; I glance at the clock, grab the Percocet bottle out of my desk drawer, and take bottle & a big glass of water to my 1:00 meeting.
1:15: The pain is increasing; I check the clock & decide I'd better wait just a little longer. I try to keep my hands from fiddling with the medicine bottle, or at least keep the glass between them and the PHB. Wonder if that glance my way was at all threatening.
1:25: Pain is seriously strong now. I wish I could take my spiffy othopedic chair into meetings, but there's barely enough room for the folding/stacking monstrosities that half the attendees sit on. Consciousness is becoming more difficult to maintain; black spots appear in my peripheral vision.
1:29: I decide it's about time. I start to open the bottle very, very gently...
1:30: I've got the pill in hand. Can't hold out much longer. Curse words start forming and a scream starts in the back of my throat. I pop the pill to stifle it. Then I hold my breath and try to stay upright.
1:45: Ahhhhhh.... that's SO much better... Mmmmm... Oh, hello pain, my old friend. Still at it, I see. That's nice... Ooooh, what a nice floaty feeling... Warm. Comfy. What's that, PHB? Oh yes, that project. Mmm-hmm. I've got it covered. (If only I could form coherent sentences.) Understand? Yes? Lovely... Just lovely...
2:00 Meeting's over and I'm feeling just ducky. What? We can't stay another hour? Darn it. How 'bout a chat? Anyone?

And now:
10:30 p.m.: Heart flutters; stutters, even-- I cough to normalize my heart rhythm, but it starts again. Must be time for my anti-anxiety meds. Not to worry. At least I have them. Every 12 hours, like clockwork. And I'm done with my day's work and it's not even midnight yet. It must have been a good day.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Out Comes the Soapbox...

This was on CNN.com for about 5 minutes today. I'm sure that to many people, it's a minor incident: A kidnapped girl was found alive and returned to her mother. Newsies tend to prefer the perpetually missing/horrendously killed endings to kidnapped-child stories, but they did run this one briefly.

Being a mom who's probably a little paranoid, I read this article from start to finish, and I have to tell you that by the end of it, I was sick to my stomach. It's a peeve of mine, as some of you know, the way the U.S. legal system treats child molestation as if it were a minor peccadillo instead of a horrific, brutal, selfish act that harms only the innocent. Terrorism, in short.

So why don't we treat it as seriously? The man who kidnapped the girl in this article had been convicted before of child molestation. He served one year, got out of jail, started dating a woman, then kidnapped and raped her daughter. In this country, he might get a whole 3 years for the second count. But the kidnapping, ah, that carries a life sentence. Can somebody please explain to me why torture (because that's what it is) is so much less offensive than the means taken to get someone into your hands for the purpose of torturing them? Well, as long as that person is a helpless, trusting child.

I think that the jail time for molesters ought to equal the sum total of all the therapy/recovery/general misery time their victims will have to spend (estimated, unless we can just hold them until everyone's feeling much better). At the minimum. You ruin someone's life, you get yours ruined. The guy in this article got his: he made the mistake of taking his victim to Mexico, and the U.S. authorities are leaving him there. Sure, he may only get 38 years instead of life, but it'll be in a Mexican prison. Hasta la vista, @$$#*!&.