From the drawer – the sweater story

A while ago I introduced the concept of “from the drawer,” stories that are not new to those who know me, but are new to my blog. Thanks to Nancy for reminding me about this one from when I had just started back to work after my maternity leave with Tristan, about two years ago.

I’ve been back at work for about three weeks now, and I think I’m finally into the rhythm of the office again. I’ve been working on some pretty high-profile stuff around here, so I get lots of face time with senior management, which is nice for a new employee although some days I really feel like I’m in over my head.

Today was an especially busy day. We had our usual all-staff morning meeting, where I gave an update on my project to the group, and I had a couple of drop-by-my-cube meetings with colleagues. I also spent about 30 minutes on a conference call in my director’s office, sitting across the desk from her while we talked to some of the folks down in Southern Ontario region.

It was about 10:30 by the time I finally made it to the bathroom. I was washing my hands when I caught sight of myself in the mirror and noticed it. IT. In that moment, I became truly cognizant of the definition of mortified. On my sleeve – my creamy white sleeve, no less – smeared from mid-bicep to near my wrist, was a painfully obvious, incredibly nasty two inch wide smear of baby shit. Suddenly I flashed back to the pre-dawn gloaming of Tristan’s room, where I rushed in to grab a little cuddle before running for the bus. I picked him up out of his crib and slung him onto my hip to deliver him to Beloved, blissfully unaware of the toxic ooze seeping out of his Pampers and ingratiating itself with my arm.

As I gazed at my sullied reflection in the mirror, I tried to console myself: “They won’t notice. It’s not that obvious.” It WAS that obvious. THEY NOTICED! You would have to make a Herculean effort of avoidance to miss it, and I just knew my colleagues weren’t up to the task.

I tried to at least mitigate the damage. First, I tried to rub it off. Have you ever tried to rub dried baby shit off cotton ribbed knit? Then thought maybe a little water might do it. Which worked, inasmuch as it diluted the stain by about 20 per cent and spread it over an area about 300 per cent of the original stain. So I rolled up the sleeve as much as I could, which did a great job of drawing attention to the goodly part of the stain still visible, left the other sleeve down, and tried valiantly not to make eye contact with anyone in my office for three months.

My preschooler the junkie

I was wandering around on Mimilou, which BTW, is a smart and funny blog worth reading, and she was talking about how her son has discovered Bob the Builder and Thomas the Tank Engine. It got me thinking about how we’re just about at the one year anniversary of our own indoctrination into the cult of Thomas and Bob (or, as Tristan called Bob way back then – for reasons that were never clear – “dat dat chh”.) Was there really life before them? Surely it was an empty existence.

I’m not sure who is more addicted to Bob and Thomas, Tristan or Beloved. Tristan has the habit, but Beloved is his dealer. We actually spent an entire day last summer scouring the toy departments of four separate Winners stores when we found out that they had received shipments of the Bob the Builder Brio train characters and were selling them at about 1/3 the price of the big chain toy stores. Just a little bit obsessive, eh? I have to say, though, I’m impressed with the guarantee on the toys – we noticed the paint chipping on Lofty, and Beloved called to find out if they market a touch-up paint for the truly neurotic fans. Turns out they will replace any of the pieces, free of charge, no questions asked. So now we have two entire sets, one for each boy, albeit one a little more worn than the other. I’m not sure whether to be proud or ashamed of ourselves.

Tristan worships “all the guys”, as he calls his growing collection of Bob and Thomas artefacts. He carries them around in a thermal lunch bag that originally contained all the medications we received from the clinic for the in vitro fertilization process that ultimately resulted in Tristan. I find the irony of this simply delicious.

He really is learning something aside from rampant consumerism, though. It awes me to watch him pore over the little catalogues that come from the toy store and name each and every engine – there must be dozens of them. If he can memorize those at three, surely he will be able to memorize long passages from Shakespeare by the time he’s in the first grade, right? He started using the word “splendid” in context at two and a half, as in “Mommy, it’s a splendid day today,” and it was only weeks later that I realized he got it from the Thomas show, where they refer to James as a splendid engine. Hey, my mother credits my twice a day Sesame Street habit in the 1970s with my graduation magna cum laude from university, so I won’t knock it!

But is it just me, or is the Thomas and Friends TV show kind of disturbing? It’s like they just set up a big train table with cameras on it and raided the local community access cable channel for cheap special effects to go with it. Maybe some of Beloved’s elitist attitudes about animation are wearing off on me (he is an animator by training and a teacher by economy) but I’d rather watch the colourful claymation of Bob’s world than Thomas’ eerie rolling eyeballs any day.


An identity crisis

I can’t do it anymore. I can no longer go on referring to my sons as Luigi and Frankie in this blog. I’ve tried to get used to it, but it feels just plain wrong. May the god of Internet privacy and safety help me, I must come clean and start referring to them by their real names. (Well, Luigi and Frankie are their real names, but a play on their middle names of Louis and Francis.) Luigi, my soon-to-be three year old and too clever by half, is really Tristan. And Frankie, my mischievous and marvellous one-year old goes by Simon in the real world.

Ahhhhh, that feels so much better!

P.S. If you are an evil ne’er-do-well sort, kindly ignore this post and move along to wreak havoc somewhere else.

Milk for your coffee?

It’s been almost a month since I’ve started back to work, and today is the first day my littlest one didn’t wake up in time for a morning milk before I left for work. Continuing to nurse him twice a day (once around 5 am and once before bed) has been surprisingly easy since I’ve gone back to work. I know he doesn’t really need to be nursed any more, but we’ve found a rhythm that’s working well for us so why tinker with it?

Nursing this baby has been a far different experience from nursing my first son. I hated nursing and persevered only because of sheer stubbornness. My nipples were cracked, blistered and bleeding for weeks, we got thrush, he had reflux and when he started having weight gain issues at four months, I had start supplementing with formula. Weaning was easy: by the age of 10 or 11 months, we were down to nursing only once a day, and he was pretty clear about when it was time to give it up entirely.

But my youngest is a boob man. He was close to seven months before I could convince him to even consider taking a bottle, despite regular attempts. “Gack, mommy, what are you doing? That pacifier is leaking into my mouth, get it out of here! I’m so traumatized by this experience that you must nurse me now!”

So back to today… The good news is, I got to sleep in. The bad news is, I now have more than 12 hours of milk supply built up to carry around with me. Not really a problem just now, but I’m a little worried about how things might be going at around 2 pm when I have a meeting with the director general. I’m pretty sure we’re long past the stage where I might spontaneously leak (oh, the joys of motherhood), but I brought my breast pump to work with me, just in case. Except, there is really nowhere private that I can pump. Doing it in my cube is not really an option. The executive boardroom has lovely comfy chairs, but it’s booked solid all day (too bad, there’s a nice big TV in there and I could have got my Dr Phil fix while I pumped.) I would do it in the washroom, but can only imagine what the person in the next stall would think when they heard the “whick-wheee, whick-wheee, whick-wheee” of the manual pump emanating from next door. Especially when it is accompanied by the “youch, youch” of trying to get a plastic pump properly latched on an overfull breast, followed by a grateful “ahhhhh” of relief and release. Maybe I could go into the Market at lunch time and accost random mothers pushing strollers, asking if they would mind if I borrowed their babies for just a couple of minutes. A kind of a random act of nursing. That’s not too weird, is it?

We need more words for tired

You know that old myth about how the Inuit have more than 50 words for snow? (My apologies, BTW, for the less than politically correct link, but Uncle Cecil has long held a soft spot in my heart.) Well, I think it’s about time we came up with some new words to express the idea of tired. I got 49 entries from Roget’s online thesaurus, and none of them come close to what I’m feeling these days.

When I talk to my childless friends and they say they are tired, it is increasingly difficult for me to restrain my rolling eyeballs. You do not, my friend, know the meaning of the word tired. I had no idea there was an entire universe of experience beyond what I conventionally (read: pre-parenthood) understood tired to mean. I am coming off of a state of sleep deprivation incurred while my darling son woke on the average every three hours for ELEVEN SOLID MONTHS — and that’s on the average, mind you, some nights it was more like hourly — and I can tell you that unless you’ve been there, you don’t know from tired. And if you have been there, hats off to you my comrade! Come join me in this little corner of cyberspace and we’ll take a nap together.

Now I’m the first to admit, I’m a bit of a suck when it comes to sleep. I’d be happy with nine hours, can make do with eight hours, am cranky and unmanageable with seven, and anything less than that just gets messy. I thought I had the parental sleep deprivation thing conquered with my first son… sure, we had to do the midnight feedings for the first couple of months, and there were days when we got up before the sun. In general, though, he slept a good twelve hours a night from about four months old, bless his little heart. And then came baby #2, who would wake up in the middle of the night because he was lonely, and would fall right back to sleep — as long as I was holding his hand. How do you say no to someone who only wants to hold your hand? That’s a good part of the reason why I kept him in a cradle at my bedside until he was eight months old and so big I had to cram him into it with a shoe-horn… at least I could stay in bed and keep him company at the same time. I also learned to nurse him in bed in pretty short order, as a baby who starts out at 10 lbs needs a lot of calories to make it through the dark hours, or so he insisted.

I’m happy to report that after suffering through a month of intermittent ‘cry it out’ with him, I think we have finally established a decent night-time routine. Well, decent inasmuch as I can cope at work with six hours of sleep if I have to. Now, if we can just eliminate the 5 am feeding, followed closely by the 5:45 am stumble through my morning ablutions, we might have a serviceable routine. Ah, how I remember fondly the days I used to need an alarm clock to wake me up…

I came out this weekend

True confessions time… I came out this weekend! Well, not that kind of coming out (not that there is anything wrong with that!) but I outed myself as a blogger to a few close friends and family members. I tell ya, what a relief to have my little closet obsession out in the open. Not only that, but I no longer have to rely on the kindness of strangers for acknowledgement and feedback — I can bully people I know into leaving comments!!

It’s been a little strange telling people who know me in real life about my blog. It’s one thing to want as many strangers as troll the Internet to hear my meandering muses, another thing entirely to expose myself to people I have to make small-talk with at the dinner table.

The response to my confession fell into three separate and clearly defined camps. The girlfriends reacted with enthusiasm, encouragement and compliments, just like good girlfriends should. These are the kind of girls who would tell you that your butt looks great in that polka-dotted skirt left over from 1989, and could actually make it sound sincere.

The parents were a little bewildered as to why I might be compelled to go to all the trouble, and probably a little curious as to who would care to read the vagaries of my life as a mom, but they were nonetheless supportive as usual. My mom reacts the same way Beloved does to a lot of my little “projects” (read: obsessions du jour): with polite interest and a bit of a perplexed look on her face that pretty much says, “whatever makes you happy, dear.”

The final reaction was from the geeks – my brother and an old friend who works in the tech industry (edited to add: who shall from now on be referred to as ÃœberGeek, as he was unsatisfied with my original citation of him). I approached them with a little more caution, because being neither girlfriends nor my parents, nor sleeping in the same bed as me, they don’t have the same obligation to be kind and complimentary that the previously mentioned audiences do. And, as I expected, they were a little less than supportive. Both rolled their eyes and snickered, and expressed that blogs are the domain of alienated and lovesick 14 year old girls, and political hacks. Well hell, it’s no surprise to me that I am in touch with my inner alienated and lovesick 14 year old girl!

From the drawer — So I’m late, right?

I remember reading once something about Stephen King. He said that he had a bunch of novels that had never been given to his publisher, and when times were lean (or, as I think the situation happened to be, he was so strung out on his addiction of choice that he couldn’t produce) he would reach into his drawer and pull out something he had written eons ago and pass it off as his latest work.

I love this concept, and the reason I am a little sketchy on the details is because I read it long ago and yet it has stayed with me all these years.

Oh, and I should clarify that it’s not so much that I am addled from substance abuse, but that I know blogs need to be updated frequently to be interesting and I’ve run out of things to say just now (stop snickering, even I shut up sometimes). So, in the interest of filling in the gaps, I would like to introduce into my blog the concept of “from the drawer.” Plus, some of my fave pieces share exciting news in my life, like this one, and you get to know a little bit more about me. Isn’t that cool?

Without further ado, here’s one of my all-time faves from May 2003:

I’m late. Not like late for work, or late for a meeting (although that frequently happens) or late for dinner (although that rarely happens). I mean I’m late, like the big LATE, like, “Hmmmm, when DID I last have my period anyway?” And I can’t believe that I don’t actually know when my last period was. I have a vague idea, but I really am not sure if I am late, or if I just can’t count.

Of course, I’ve been through this too many times before to get worked up about it. But I’m this irrepressible optimist, in case you haven’t noticed. So when I figure I’m about three days late, I start to wonder. And I start to get a little bit obsessed with the toilet paper again. I find myself peeing when I don’t really have a full bladder, just to check the TP. And then I find I’m really peeing all the time, and I’m not sure if it’s psychological because I want to check the TP, or if I’m imagining things, and then one morning I remember that frequent urination is an early sign of pregnancy.

It’s at that point that I start to get interested in my breasts, poor neglected things lying dormant since Tristan weaned himself in January. I find myself walking through the mall on the way home from work, trying to surreptitiously give myself a little squeeze to see if they’re tender, which they are not. So I tell myself I’m being silly, and I wonder why I am compelled to do this in the mall, instead of say, my slightly more private bathroom at home.

Anyway, a couple more days go by, and I tell myself, “Okay, if no flow by Thursday, I’ll take a test. I should definitely be late by Thursday.” So then it occurs to me that if I want to take it on Thursday morning, I have to buy it on Wednesday. Now, after a couple years of struggling with infertility (blissfully ended by a successful IVF) I hate those freakin’ tests. They seem to be a big red bulls-eye for the period police, and I’m really reluctant to actually buy one, as I am happy not knowing. As long as not proven otherwise, I’m still free to fantasize, right?

So I’m standing in the Shoppers Drug Mart, staring at the shelf of tests. And I don’t want to buy one, because I have all these bitter, sad memories. I pick one up, I put it down. I pick up the two-pack, because it’s more economical and I’m Scottish and Dutch and you don’t get any cheaper than that. But I don’t want that other test lying around to mock me after the first one comes up negative. So I walk out of the store. And then I walk back in, because the not-knowing is killing me. And I just buy the damn test to be done with it, and I hold it extra tight like a talisman. All the way home, I’m extremely conscious of the little bag beside me, like everyone can read the neon sign over my head, “Ha ha, look at this woman. She’s infertile, and probably less than a week late, and she bought a pregnancy test! What a rube!”

So I’m watching the Sens game last night, and I start to play little games in my head. Like, if they get the goal, I’m pregnant. If they win the game, it’s a sign, I’m pregnant. Beloved is teaching, so I’m all by myself, and damn if that isn’t one of the best, most exciting hockey games I’ve ever seen! And all wrapped up in the anxiety of the game is my obsession with the little box on the end table. On my way to bed, I bring the test upstairs, and on the way past Tristan’s room I stop in and touch the test to the top of his little head, for good luck.

So it’s 4:45 am and Tristan has been sleeping poorly lately. I crawl back into bed after the latest soother insertion, and I have to pee but I don’t want to pee yet because I want to use the first morning urine for the test. So I’m lying there, desperate to pee, trying to get back to sleep, and that’s just not going to happen. So I give in. I tear open the box, and I’m taking a quick read of the instructions (it’s been two years at least), doing the little “I’ve gotta pee” dance in my pre-dawn bathroom.

So I pee on the stick. And I remember all the negatives. And I remember my one positive, that ended in a miscarriage at 13 weeks. And I’m afraid to look, and I swear vengeance on the cruel soul that invented these blasted tests.

So I’m holding it in my hand, watching the liquid race across the little windows. There goes the test window. There goes the actual window.

Oh. My. God.

I’m pregnant!!!


A picture of us

It took me an entire Saturday afternoon, a few false starts and more patience with technology than I thought I had, but I finally managed to install and run Hello photo-sharing software. Wanna see us? Here we are!

It’s a pretty old picture by now (taken last June) but still one of my faves. One day I’ll get a good pic of Beloved and put him on display, too. Posted by Hello

What a whopper!

That’s what my grandfather said about me when he saw me for the first time – I was 8 lbs 14 oz or something to that effect. I can only imagine what he might have said when he saw my plump 10 lbs Simon for the first time.

I’m pleased to say that today at his one-year check-up, he has clawed his way back on to the curve at the 90th percentile for weight after being off the charts for the last couple of appointments. He’s a svelte 12.2 kilograms – that’s just shy of 27 lbs, if I did the math right – and at 77 cm (30 1/3 inches) tall, he’s in the 80th percentile for height. My other whopper, Tristan, was usually the other way around… 90th percentile for height but only 50th percentile for weight. We did that old wives’ tale thing, double his height at 2.5 years old to approximate his adult height, and he came in at 6’9”. Yikes!

A proud mommy moment today: as we were putting our coats and boots on to get out the door, Simon was sitting near the two steps that lead down from the hallway to our little foyer. After tumbling down the stairs a few times in his early mobility days, he has been pretty good about not attempting to get down the stairs himself. (Up the stairs to the bedrooms is another matter entirely – he can do it without missing a beat.) To my astonishment, I watched him tentatively stretch out a leg as he sat at the top of the stairs, test his weight, turn completely around and crawl backwards down the two stairs without any prompting or help from us. Now, crawling down the stairs may not seem like a major milestone, but we hadn’t been teaching him how to climb down yet – he figured it out on his own. My intrepid little adventurer, surprising me at every turn. (Edited to correct the boys names per the resolution of my identity crisis.)


I had comments!!!!

Okay, could I be any more of a dufus about this comment thing?

I had a stunning THREE comments in reply to my pathetic plea for them. THREE people — can you believe it? And yet, if you look at the comment tags, yet AGAIN you will see a big fat zero. Do you know why? Cuz I got all techno-weenie again, and installed haloscan‘s funky comment and trackback code and when I did, it wiped out the previous comments. Did you hear the bloodcurdling “noooooooooooo” I let out just about the time I realized what I had done?


I happened to have the previous version of my blog open in another browser window, and {insert triumphant “ta da” music here} I rescued my precious comments from oblivion!! So, without further ado, here are my three beloved comments, complete with reply from me:

Dean Dad said…
You go, girl!
Gotta say, as an American Dad, the thought of a year of paid parental leave is unbelievably appealling. If it makes you feel any better, here it’s 12 weeks, unpaid, and the guilt industry is just as strong anyway.Like the pseudonymns, too.
9:48 AM

hnk said…
I feel kind so I will left this small comment, I press “next blog ” when I was looking at one of my friend’s blog and I found your blog. the only way that make the people visit your blog is to visit their blog and left acomment so that they will visit your blog….like what you will do now 😉
9:49 AM

ann said…
I love the name of your new blog.
“Postcards from the Mothership” is very funky!
Ann D
The Mother of All Blogs
12:45 PM

DaniGirl said…
Holy crap, now THREE people have read my blog? This is the most exciting day in the history of the Internet for sure! At the risk of sounding a little Sally Field-ish, “You read me! You really read me!”I was so excited to find your (collective) comments that I called my Beloved, who has been amused if not a little mystified by my newfound blogging obsession.

Me, in near breathless excitement: “Guess what?”
Beloved, who has been through this enough times with me to respond with indulgent caution: “What?”
Me, beaming with pride: “THREE people read my blog.”
Beloved, probably shaking his head and thinking it could be worse, “Congratulations. Can I go back to work now?”

Anyway, thanks for making my day!
Affectionately, Danigirl
1:21 PM

I love comments!!!!!