Friday, October 28, 2011

How I Met Your Father

Dear Boys,

As I write this, you are both still small. You won't care about this story just yet, as your days are spent plotting how to steal Mommy's phone in order to watch tractor videos, or snorting hungrily in the general direction of Mommy's boobs every two minutes (you know who you are).

But one day, you'll want to know how Mommy and Daddy met, and how you subsequently came to be. And this is what I'll tell you.

First, you should know that we live in Los Angeles. Now, Los Angeles is a nice place to live and has many wonderful qualities, but "ideal for locating quality individual with which to fall in love and subsequently marry" is not amongst them. It is the home of the struggling actor, the fledgling musician, the wayward drifter, and Mommy was growing tired of sifting through these bums and lowlifes. She knew your daddy was out there - she just didn't know how to find him.

This is where your Grandma comes in. See, your Grandma is a very smart lady, and as much as I hate to admit it, she's usually right (USUALLY, Mom). One day, Grandma made the keen observation that Mommy would never be able to marry someone who cannot spell and use proper grammar, so perhaps she should try online dating. That way, she pointed out, Mommy could see right away who could use the English language properly and who should have paid better attention in elementary school.

Mommy had to agree that Grandma had a point, so she set aside her long-held suspicions that internet dating was reserved only for trolls, losers and the socially maladjusted, and created a profile on a dating site.

Dudes started emailing Mommy. Most were perverts and/or could not distinguish between "your" and "you're." Mommy ignored them. One day, when she happened to be out of town visiting Grandma, they were sitting in their favorite coffee shop when an email popped up from a new prospective internet suitor. Only this one was different. The note, although fairly inane ("What are you doing for the fourth of July? I am going to a rock climbing gym"), was properly spelled and punctuated. The profile listed a love of wine, tortilla chips and jazz (um, have you MET Mommy??). And attached to the profile was a photo of a very, very handsome man - your future daddy.

"Look at this one," Mommy told Grandma. Grandma took one look and said "write him back." Mommy protested that it cost $19.99 to write him, since she had only signed up for the free trial and therefore could only receive emails, not reply to them (did I mention that Mommy is a cheapass?). "Write him back," Grandma said, and handed Mommy a twenty.

So write him Mommy did. But she didn't hear back. Nothing. For days. Weeks, even. One day she went on his profile. On the page there was a section that said "Number of messages you have sent this user: 1" and then "Number of messages this user has sent you: 3."

Huh? Three messages? Mommy had only received ONE, boys. Was he sending messages that she wasn't receiving? Was the internet conspiring against Mommy and Daddy?

She promptly emailed him again, in a last ditch effort to meet this cute chip-loving, wine-swilling jazz fan. She told him that she hoped she didn't sound like a stalker, but it seemed that perhaps he was sending her messages she wasn't receiving, and if that was the case, well, let's fix it because maybe we will meet and fall in love and have beautiful babies together one day (okay, she didn't actually say that last part. Mommy is pretty forward, but that's just ridiculous).

And you know what? This time, he wrote Mommy back and she GOT it. And she wrote back, a really witty, silly, snarky email in true Mommy fashion. And then he wrote again. And on and on it went, back and forth, for several weeks, until one day we had our very first date.

We went to Mexican food. We ate chips. We drank margaritas. We laughed a lot and talked too loud, and people at the tables next to us stared. Your daddy said to them "This is our first date - how do you think it's going??"

Afterwards, we wandered tipsily into the parking lot. Daddy started to say that he'd had such a great time, yadda yadda. And Mommy said "Is it over already?" because she is forward like that, as we have already established. So off we went, down the street to the famous Dresden Room to hear Marty and Elayne butcher some jazz classics. Mommy spilled wine on her shirt, and Daddy tried to kiss her and she wouldn't let him.

And then she did.

Later we sat in Mommy's car on the street and talked for a long time, our faces bathed in the glow of a dim streetlamp on that warm August night. Mommy doesn't remember exactly what we discussed, but by then she thought that maybe she was going to marry that man one day.

Daddy called her the very next day. He said "This might be weird, but what are you doing tonight?" So we went out again, on another marathon date, with dim candlelit and french food. We decided to be honest, to put all our flaws out there, on the table, so we wrote them down on the paper tablecloth - one column for Mommy and one for Daddy. Mommy still has it. Among other things, it says "Paige: can't make decisions" and "Max: procrastinator." Some things never change, boys.

And as we sat in the moonlight in Mommy's car that night, she was quite certain that she had finally found your father.

Just over a year later, Mommy and Daddy got all dressed up and stood in front of their families and friends and told them all about their hopes and dreams.

That was four years ago today, on a perfect autumn evening.

We didn't know what the world had in store for us. We were just kids.

We didn't know that we would be lucky enough to have two perfect little boys to share our lives.

We didn't know that we would be so happy, or so tired.

But here we are. All of us - our little family - together.

So my boys, I promise that I will do my best to teach you, love you, protect you, and help you become strong, kind and smart.

But if there's one thing I know is true, it is this: if you grow up to be one shred of the man your father is, you are very lucky little boys indeed.

Happy Anniversary, LOML. Thank you for our beautiful life.
Oh, and you still owe Grandma twenty bucks.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mastitis, and How Much It Sucks

To say I'm a hypochondriac would be a slight understatement.

Just after Griffin was born, I noticed a spot on my face. It had always been there, or at least it had been there as long as I was really conscious of examining my face for flaws, which is to say AWHILE, and had never really bothered me. Yet suddenly, standing in the bathroom, unwashed, smelly, leaky, hormonal, I was absolutely certain that it was cancer. I rushed to the dermatologist (okay, I waited three weeks for an appointment, but by damn I entered that office quickly yesterday) demanding to have it checked. It was, of course, nothing (or a "subcute-something-blahblah-whatsit" according to the doctor). Ah.

A couple of days ago I was nursing Griffin when I glanced down and noticed a dark brown birthmark on his head, partially hidden in his impressive spread o' baby hair. The five seconds that followed went something like this in my brain: "What the-? A MOLE? Oh sweet jesus, it's melanoma. MY BABY HAS MELANOMA. Did he get too much sun at the pumpkin patch? Did he get ANY sun at the pumpkin patch?!?? Did the sun penetrate through his blanket, his stroller AND his hat and give him cancer at the pumpkin patch??"

Then I poked at it. It smeared. Chocolate. Oops.

So yeah, I get a wee bit neurotic about health issues (especially skin-related stuff - who hates the sun? I do! I do!). Fortunately, 99.99% of the time, my concerns prove to be unfounded.


When that .01% of my worries prove ACCURATE, it basically sends my mental universe into a freefall of "See?? SEE??? I KNEW IT!!" death, destruction, apocalypse, total shittiness

So you can imagine my reaction on Saturday after our trip to the pumpkin patch, when I started feeling a little under the weather - aches, chills, fever, crankiness, and um, WHAT THE HELL is wrong with my right boob??

Mastitis, bitches. That's what.

I kept it together long enough to call a doctor friend and have her call in an antibiotics prescription for me at the pharmacy. No, I will NOT mess around with natural remedies when it comes to my boobs and my precious milk supply. Plus, everything I read said that by the time it had progressed to fever (of 101.5, mind you) it was indeed a full blown infection and therefore required DRUGS! GIVE 'EM!

I'm only a few days into the ten-day prescription, and already feeling fairly normal, save for some residual breast soreness and swelling. But that swelling? See, I've convinced myself that it's an abscess. I am certain that I am in the .5% of women whose mastitis has gone unchecked long enough to develop into an abscess, so of course I will require surgery, etc etc etc crazypants etc. Never you mind that I realized what was happening and started treating it within hours of feeling crappy. Abscess! IT COULD HAPPEN!

Deep breath. Breathe in calm, breathe out stress. Thank you, hypnobirthing.

The ironic part of this is that mastitis is largely caused by milk stasis, which is when there is just TOO MUCH DAMN MILK in the boob and it's not adequately removed by the baby. So even though my kid is ginormous and nurses constantly, even he cannot quell the overproduction in my craaaaazy efficient right boob. I had deliberately not been pumping, or at least not pumping like a crazy fiend like I did with Carter, because I wanted to give myself a break and NOT necessarily ensure such a massive milk supply that I could feed a village of kids. I just wanted enough for one! That's it! So if I didn't pump as much, eventually it would stop producing so much, right?

Wrong, apparently. Or right, but only after said right boob TOTALLY SCREWS YOU in the mastitis department.


Well, this has just been all rainbows and unicorns, now hasn't it? Sorry, folks. It's not me, it's the boob talking.

Miss Mary Sunshine, signing off.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hot damn. Just a quick note to boast about my massive baby. We just had Griffin's four-week appointment at the pediatrician, and the boy is 10 lbs, 8 oz. That means he has gained TWO pounds (okay, 1 lb 14 oz, but close enough) since his last appointment two weeks ago. Two pounds in two weeks! He's in the 75th percentile for both weight AND height. Carter has been 10-25th percentile for his entire young life, so this is new to me. Let's hear it for the boobies, people.

...and now, because I want to zone out and watch some television before the baby wakes up, I leave you with two cute pictures of my awesome older son:

Friday, October 14, 2011

Baby Fashion Showdown!

Let's get all Us Weekly up in here, people! Who wore it better?!

Carter in Silly Goose (9 weeks):

Griffin in Silly Goose (almost 3 weeks):

Carter in Duck Jammies (8 weeks):

Griffin in Duck Jammies (2 weeks):

Carter in I Heart Daddy (5 weeks):

Griffin in I Heart Daddy (3 weeks):

Yes, I am going to have a LOT of fun with this...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

...and then there were four

Griffin is 19 days old today, and I must say that our transition to a family of four has been shockingly seamless (knocking wood, pt-pt-pt over the shoulder a la my little Russian mother-in-law). I spend a lot of time feeling incredulous and waiting for the other shoe to drop, for all hell to break loose, for Carter to become a little demon.

As is, Carter is handling Big Brotherhood like a complete champ. When we brought the baby home, Griffin immediately presented his big brother with a present - a BIG, YELLOW BULLDOZER (all caps necessary, as any and all machines are VERY EXCITING in this house). Carter was overjoyed, and thanked the baby profusely. Perhaps Griffin's initial gesture of generosity helped to secure a special place in Carter's heart, because the Roo is remarkably chill about the new arrival. So far his interactions with the baby are limited to watching me nurse ("Mommy's boobie is leaking - like a cow!!) and to trying to calm the baby if he fusses in the car ("It's okay, baby - we'll be home soon."). Otherwise, Carter goes about his business as usual and pays little attention to his little brother, other than to immediately notify me if the baby is waking up or needs to be fed ("Mommy, the baby is crying!"). Happily, he has shown absolutely no aggression toward the baby, or toward Mommy (halle-freaking-lujah). I suspect this is because Carter's a very verbal kid and is therefore able to tell me exactly what he wants and needs - "Mommy, put the baby in the swing and come sit with Carter!" - so he doesn't need to get frustrated and lash out...? Or maybe I just have a really chill toddler. Either way, I'll take it.

Griffin is a dream baby (more frantic wood-knocking, pt-pt-pt). Throughout my pregnancy, I joked that he would no doubt be a demon because Carter had been such a mellow baby, and you can't get lucky twice, right? However, in the past couple of weeks I've come to realize something - Carter WASN'T easy. As my mother and mother-in-law reminded me, we had to swaddle-shoosh-swing-etc-etc and generally Harvey Karp the crap out of him to get him to sleep, he loathed the car and screamed incessantly when strapped into his car seat, and he reduced my boobs to bloodied shells of their former selves for the entire first month post-partum. Both grandmas vividly recall babysitting experiences in which they frantically bounced a swaddled, screaming Carter on our birth ball, desperately hoping for sleep baby, sleeeeeeep...

It seems I'd forgotten all of that. I'd forgotten that he was swaddled for each and every nap and night until at least five months old, when I was beginning to suspect that I would send him off to college with an adult-sized Miracle Blanket. I'd forgotten popping him into the Moby Wrap and suffering for the initial five solid minutes of screaming until he finally conked out. I'd (almost) forgotten the excruciating pain with every latch-on for four solid weeks.

...and then there was little Fin (Finn? Can I include an extra 'n' at the end of his nickname that isn't in the name itself? I have yet to decide). And in good, easy, second-child tradition, he doesn't require ANY of that madness. I swaddle him at night in order to get him to sleep longer, but he doesn't need it. We cruise to and from Burbank (30+ minutes each way) twice a day to take Carter to school, with nary a peep of protest from the car seat. I can count on one hand the number of sizable cries he has had. And nursing - nursing has been SO EASY that I am quite certain it's a gift from the gods to compensate for the initial post-partum hormonal hell that was month one with Carteroo.

I have no doubt that chronicling my good fortune in this manner is sure to tempt fate and send worlds of chaos showering down upon my weary (oh god, so, so weary - another thing I'd forgotten. How is it possible to be this tired and remain upright?) head, but I'm willing to risk it.

I have basically spent the past 19 days wandering around in a dreamy, joyous state, mumbling "I feel like I'm living in a dream" and other such hokey things, because I am just really, really happy, and so in love with my little family.