Tuesday, September 30, 2008

On E's Birthday

When he first came into being
in me, he did not look human, then slowly
he formed, a head, a body, the boy
unfolding, limbs springing free and uncurling--
with a clear tap he kicked me from within--
long before I saw his face
I felt I knew him, I could not have described him and I loved him.

from "Love's Eyesight" by Sharon Olds

All at Once

Eamon is one today, and I've hardly had a second to give that any thought. The weekend extravaganza was chaotic but great: birthday party on Saturday (we had about twenty people here), baptism on Sunday at this church that we love. (More on that stuff later.) TJ's parents arrived from Florida on Saturday afternoon before the party and are staying with us until tomorrow. Eamon woke up from his nap on Sunday with a fever and it hasn't gone away since. He has no other symptoms, but he clearly feels lousy, and we're taking him to the doctor today even though they probably can't do anything. He's been fussy and clingy (wanting Mama) and just not himself. It's exhausting. In the meantime, TJ came down with a toothache Friday night. Later he confessed that he thinks it was the worst pain he's ever felt. Luckily, it subsided into a less excruciating ache by Saturday morning and he was able to put up with it until he could get to the dentist yesterday. We knew it was going to be bad news, but we had no idea just how bad.

He needs to have three teeth extracted, two root canals, bridges, implants, blahblahblah. It's going to cost over $10,000, and even if we get dental insurance first, which we will, the insurance will only cover $1500 of that. He has an appointment with an endodontist on Thursday (which will determine whether the infected tooth can be saved) and in the meantime he'll be taking antibiotics and painkillers. He'll also need to see an oral surgeon. And of course he's scheduled to go out of town next week. What a nightmare. We haven't had a chance to talk about how we're going to pay for this stuff, other than selling one of our cars, and that's just for starters.

In other drama, TJ got into a fight with his mom on Sunday night that was not pretty. They made up in the end, after Mary sobbed and sobbed and accused TJ of being an ungracious host and said she never wanted to come here again. It started with her going off on illegal aliens. (After all, isn't that the country's worst problem right now?) TJ lost it and told her she was "unbelievably, incredibly ignorant." This was after an argument with his dad that ended with his dad going upstairs and saying he wanted to leave early. Good times. That one started over a comment his dad made about "all the blacks and Mexicans fighting in our prisons" and TJ calling him a racist. Bill and Mary are the worst kind of Republicans, and they bring up offensive shit, and TJ just can't let it roll off his back. I wish he could, but I can't really blame him for getting upset.

Between Bill and Mary, and TJ trying to work and deal with his tooth, and Eamon being sick, I feel like I'm barely clinging to sanity. But I know that in the grand scheme of things, it's all small stuff, and in a twisted way, that feels good. Sort of. It feels like life, anyway.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Eamon's first birthday party starts in three hours. Woot!
TJ is leaving in a half hour to pick up his parents at the airport. They'll be staying with us till Wednesday.
It's been a challenge getting ready for a party and overnight house guests with a mobile baby-almost-toddler (who climbed to the top of the stairs all by himself yesterday), but we're actually in pretty good shape at this point in time, shock of shocks. TJ developed a horrible toothache last night that had me convinced he would be out of commission today (and that we'd be making another trip to the ER), but it miraculously went away by the morning and we've been working hard all day. (He'll be going to the dentist Monday.) Whew. I think I got about three hours of sleep over that one.

Lots of pictures to come, I'm sure, and I may even write out E's birth story over the next week. I feel like I'm finally ready.

Today I just keep thinking about how fragile and miraculous life is, how happy I am to be living and breathing on this earth, and how uncertain all our futures are. Here's to many more years together.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday Morning

Kids are so resilient. Too bad that doesn't carry over into adulthood. You know? E is totally fine. We gave him some Motrin yesterday when we got home from the hospital and he nursed to sleep last night and slept straight through until 5:00 this morning. What a guy. He seems to be in a great mood today despite a fat lip and this glob of pulpy, deep red skin hanging from the fat lip. The doctor said that would eventually shrivel up and fall off. As for his gum, I haven't had a chance to take a peek today yet. In the meantime, he continues to put everything in his mouth. Ouch. How can that not hurt? But whatev, it doesn't seem to phase him.

I think I slept for six hours in a row last night, by the way. If I really did, that's something of a miracle. I can count on one hand the number of times I've slept for six straight hours in the past year, not that it really matters. I don't feel more rested or anything today. But somehow it's just a good feeling, psychologically.

Incidentally, the countdown has begun for Eamon's big birthday weekend. We've got his party on Saturday (TJ's parent's are flying in from Florida and mine are driving here from Dallas and San Antonio), and then we're having a baptism for him on Sunday. We still don't know what we're making food-wise for the party. Hmmm. I also have a shitload of cleaning to do. I was planning on getting a bunch done yesterday afternoon, but the universe had other plans, and that's the way life goes sometimes. Onwards and upwards.

Hope you all have a great week.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Afternoon at the ER

We had to take Eamon to the ER this afternoon. He pulled up on the coffee table downstairs (like he does a hundred times a day) and fell down and somehow (we have no idea how) cut his lip and gum. I assumed he'd just hit his head, in fact, I heard it hit, and I picked him up to comfort him, and then blood literally just started spilling from his mouth. More and more and more. Horrifying. It was hard to tell what was going on, and we weren't sure what to do; it didn't seem like the kind of injury you could apply pressure to. E was screaming hysterically and I was trying unsuccessfully to press on his lip with a cold, wet cloth. TJ went online and read somewhere that you don't want to mess around with lip lacerations, so we decided to go to the ER, even though he'd stopped bleeding by the time we were halfway there, and he seemed to be doing okay. It's Sunday, though, so the ER seemed like our one and only option. Long story short, they didn't do anything, and it just has to heal. The lip isn't the worst part; it's the cut in the gum above one of his top teeth that looks awful and had us concerned. But that should heal in a couple of days, apparently. The doctor said that if E was a year older they would've had him rinse his mouth with antiseptic, but he obviously can't do that yet. Luckily, our mouths don't usually get infected because they're already full of bacteria, or so we were taught today. We also learned that the lips and gums heal incredibly quickly. Oh, and that E's cutting a fifth tooth, a cuspid. We hadn't realized until the doctor showed us, although we'd wondered if there was another one on its way from how he's seemed the past couple of days.

We were so proud of our guy today. He just kind of persevered through it all--he didn't cry when the doctor examined his mouth, even though we were holding him down on a table with his arms over his head, and he ate a normal dinner (how, I don't know) and even nursed tonight. He is the sweetest thing I've ever seen. We spent two hours at the hospital, which isn't bad by normal standards, but with a (squirmy, injured, fussy) baby, it felt twice as long.

In any case, we're just glad he didn't need stitches or anything. Whew.
I'm going to go relax now.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008

Videos (finally)

These are dated now; oh well. The first is from before he could crawl. It was actually taken the morning of the day he crawled for the first time, August 3. The second one is from August 6. He had just woken up from a nap.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Stop Talking About Her

There's a great bit by Anne Lamott on Salon this week about the election and Sarah Palin. You can find it here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Chillin' in the Swing with My Two Giant Front Teeth

Today started out pretty rough, as though to make up for yesterday. Getting out helped, though, as usual.
Here's a picture or two from the park. E wanted to swing for a long, long time, which was okay by me in this weather.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Good Day

I think it's funny that I'm making a big deal out of starting E on cow's milk. You would think we were starting it super early, and in actuality, it's not that early at all. I guess seeing him drink milk just makes him seem like such a Big Kid to me. I wonder if moms who formula-feed feel like the transition to cow's milk is as significant.

By the way, today is the kind of day I love being a stay-at-home mom. E and I are in good places, and most importantly, fall has arrived and it's not blazing hot outside. I think the weather has everything do to with how today feels. The house is still and quiet--no AC in the background--and a cool breeze is blowing through the open windows. I was finally able to air out E's room, which has been hot and stuffy and mildly stinky lately. We always keep the curtains closed in there because the sun beats down on that side of the house in the afternoon, and his room gets really hot. So it felt great to tie the curtains back and open the window. E pulled up on the windowsill and stared wide-eyed at the trees and the cars and the street and laughed when the wind blew across his face.

This afternoon I bought his birthday gift from me and TJ. I've been dying to get this for him. It's a set of musical instruments for children. The set comes with castanets, jingle bells, maracas, and a tambourine. We hope he grows to feel music deep in his bones, and that he learns that, like books, music will always be there for him.

Another E Report

I have this vague idea that once E is one (in almost exactly two weeks!), I won't blog as much about the ins and outs of his sleeping and all that stuff. That's my goal, anyway. But until then . . . last night felt like a milestone. He didn't wake up at all until 4:45, but he really wanted to nurse then and was crying pretty hard in his room. I made a split-second decision (sorry, TJ) that I wasn't going to nurse him. So TJ went in (cue the next level of angry, hysterical screeching) and rocked him while I listened and cringed. I was sure it wouldn't work and he'd end up staying awake from then on, and I was asking myself if nursing him at 5:00 every morning was really all that bad. Then, lo and behold, he stopped crying after about five minutes and put his head down and went to sleep. TJ rocked him for quite awhile and then came back to bed. Five minutes later, E was up again, screaming mad. TJ went back in and rocked him, and again he went to sleep after several minutes of pissed-off crying. This time he stayed asleep until 7:00. Victory!!!!! At the first peep from him, I ran into his room and scooped him up to nurse (I still felt empty after over twelve hours of not nursing, by the way). We were so happy to see each other. I can't imagine how great it would be if he slept through the night and woke up between 6:00 and 7:00. It would change everything.

In other milk-related news, I gave him cow's milk with his dinner last night. I have never seen him suck so hard for so long on a sippy cup. He freaking loved it. I also heated up a frozen Amy's organic veggie burger for him for the first time (he had cheese and fruit as well), and he really liked it.

His favorite food of all, however, is cottage cheese. I usually give it to him as an afternoon snack, and he practically faints from joy. The only problem is that nothing makes him throw a bigger tantrum than coming to the end of the cottage cheese (and it's not like I give him a measley serving). He FLIPS out (shaking, growling, his face beet red, throat-shredding screams), to the point that it almost cancels out the happiness he was clearly feeling moments before. The emotional rollercoaster has begun . . .

Saturday, September 13, 2008


In the first few months after E was born, I kept a stack of baby/parenting guides by the tv upstairs, and I consulted them often, sometimes frantically. There were so many changes, so many decisions to make, and inevitably something weird would happen with his poop or his sleep or his breathing or his nursing, and I wouldn't know what it meant or if I should be worried. I also used to wonder things like: How will I know when to stop swaddling him? How will I know when he's ready to go longer between feedings? How will I know when it's time to move him from the co-sleeper to his crib? When should we start feeding him solids?

I now look at the baby books very, very rarely. They sit on a shelf in my office, mostly collecting dust. It's not that I'm an expert now. Newborns really are inscrutable mysteries in many ways. Caring for them is very stressful, in my opinion. But I've also realized that there is this thing called instinct and it has guided me through the unanswerable questions and transitions over the past year, even when I didn't realize that's what was happening and I felt anything but confident. I somehow just knew when it was time to stop swaddling E, for instance. And the latest thing is that I think it's time to start giving him cow's milk. He won't be one until the end of the month, but he eats a lot of dairy (cottage cheese is like crack to him) and he has no problems with it. Also, my breasts have felt incredibly empty lately, almost deflated. At the same time, E has suddenly started gulping down water, whereas up until now he would only take a couple of sips a day. So, I think it's time (maybe this seems obvious). I let him have some of my skim milk to try last week and he took to it immediately, so I'll be interested to see what he does with whole milk.

In other E news, the second top tooth came through yesterday, just a sliver. Today his gum has been bleeding but he's been okay. Last night we finally put the kebosh on the middle-of the-night feeding. He woke up at 2:00, and I could tell it was because of his teeth (usually he wakes up closer to 4:00). I rocked him but he kept wincing and twitching and he started screaming again when I put him back down. TJ got up and we gave him some Motrin and then TJ rocked him, which E wasn't happy about at all. He flipped when I left the room but calmed down after a few minutes. TJ rocked him for a long time and then came back to bed and fell asleep, but E was crying again in a few minutes. I went back in and rocked him yet again, and he didn't protest. This time it took. It was after 3:00 when I crawled back in bed. Once we've gotten him night weaned, we'll need to stop going in and rocking him endlessly, but I thought last night went well, considering. I did nurse him when he woke up screaming at 5:30 this morning. I'd like to wait until 6:00 if I can, but I didn't want to make him cry until then. Surprisingly, he went back to sleep after nursing. Thank God. I felt like the walking dead.

He only napped for a half hour or so total yesterday, so that was quite a feat.

He is just the sweetest boy. When you rock him he buries his face as far as possible into your neck and he stays that way the entire time.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cutie Boy

Simple (VERY simple) Pleasures

I totally reorganized and cleaned out the pantry yesterday, and it made me almost giddy. I keep opening the doors and staring at the spacious, orderly shelves. Last year around this time, my amazing friend Catherine came over and organized the pantry (and all the kitchen cabinets!) for me because I was eight months pregnant and could hardly move, and because she's wonderful and kind and could really be a personal organizer. In the past year the pantry has held on to the basic order she provided, but it'd gotten a little chaotic over time, and we'd introduced several new categories of items like baby food, bibs, etc.

Here it is now in all its glory.
I should've taken a before picture.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Bathtime Pics

This past week we stopped giving E baths in the toddler tub in our bathroom and started using the big tub in the guest bathroom. We should've done this a lot sooner. This tub isn't slippery, and it's a cinch for him to pull up on the side. He also has a ton of room to move around and play. And it's easier on whoever's giving the bath. He was out of control in the toddler tub, constantly falling all over the place. Anyway, here are a couple of pictures (the first one blurry, but it was the best I could do). The second one features his current favorite game--pushing the little animals over the side of the tub and then looking over to see where they've landed.

Catching Up

I haven't gotten around to posting much lately. Just not feeling it. And I've been busy cleaning and taking care of E and trying to work on that book project I mentioned earlier. (I'm learning a lot, but I think this could take years.)

To catch up briefly, we had a good Labor Day weekend. On Saturday we went to Wimberley to visit Nana. She looked pretty good, just very tired. The chemo and radiation have thoroughly kicked her ass. Luckily, she just finished her first round, so now she'll have a six-week break. She hopes to get some of her energy back during this time.

On Sunday we drove down to San Marcos to my childhood friend Amber's ranch. She was throwing a bbq birthday bash for her husband, who we hadn't met yet. It was great to meet him and their two boys and some other Austin Mama families, and E had fun in the pool. The food was heavenly, and the setting could not have been lovelier. The party was actually at Amber's parents' house, which might be the most beautiful home I've ever seen. Seriously. Breathtaking.

We started out Labor Day being very domestic. I cleaned downstairs and TJ make hummus and bean salad. Around lunchtime we found out that Catherine and Shannon (who just moved into their first house) had had a plumbing fiasco the night before (the bath water wouldn't turn off) that resulted in the water for the whole house having to be turned off, thanks to a neighbor's assistance. They were waiting for the plumber to arrive that afternoon. When we heard the situation they were in, and learned that they didn't have any food for lunch, we drove down to South Austin and picked up food for them at Central Market, along with several gallons of water, and went on over. The plumber was there by the time we arrived and was able to fix the problem, and we got a chance to visit with them. TJ hadn't seen their house yet. It was fun.

This past Saturday my dad and Gwen were going to be in Austin for a choir thing (my dad's a choir director), so they came over and we went to lunch at the Eastside Cafe and then came back here to visit awhile. They hadn't been to our house in months (they had the craziest summer) and hadn't seen Eamon's latest tricks, so I was excited to have them here.

As for E, he continues to pull up like crazy, has started to take a few steps while holding on to things (but isn't really cruising yet), and is still transitioning to one nap. If he wakes up between 5:00 and 6:30, he needs a morning nap, but if he wakes up closer to 7:00, it's a one-nap day. Lately he's been waking up super early, and in the past two days he's started teething in earnest again (the second top tooth), so that hasn't been fun. Last week when that first top tooth was really coming through, his gums were actually bleeding. But the pain seemed to dissipate after a day of that.

He's been having a great time playing with his round blocks downstairs (balancing them on their round edge and then watching them roll and fall), he still loves rolling the cylinder blocks across the wood floor, and he's gotten hours of entertainment from this little tupperware cup that he pushes around the kitchen. Because of its shape, it rolls in circles and other crazy patterns, and he crawls after it, delighted. I get the sense that he thinks it's alive.

His love affair with Squeaky continues, and TJ and I think that he might be trying to say "Squeaky." I always thought that would be his first word, but the jury's still out on whether he's really saying it. Whatever sound he's making, it's new and it's two syllables, and it makes us laugh.

And I guess that about sums things up.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Choking Hazards

Yesterday I left E alone in our bedroom for a minute while I went into another room to do something. Thirty seconds or so passed, and he was too quiet. I went to check on him and saw him chewing on something. I jammed my finger in his mouth and fished out one of my earrings--dangly beads, with a long, curved hook. Oh God! Up until now I've kept this little tray of jewelry on my nightstand, and I had just been thinking yesterday morning that it would be time to move it soon. Apparently that time had already arrived. Duh. He can pull up. And reach. I just hadn't realized he could reach that far. What was I thinking? The funny thing is that I'd gone to great lengths otherwise to baby-proof the room--the stuff I do every day: unplug and move my bedside lamp, unplug the monitor, unplug and move the white noise machine (er, to the floor, so he can play with it), move the trash can, insert outlet covers over newly exposed outlets, etc.

Earring incident aside, I'm surprised by how (relatively) unafraid I've been of choking (and germs--I didn't know I'd be so laidback about germs, but I'm glad I am; in fact, I take pride in it). But when I say I'm not scared of choking, I really just mean food. E chokes and gags on food all the time. I've gotten used to it and I know what he can and can't handle. Found objects, however, do scare the shit of me. I'm especially afraid of him finding a battery or a coin, I think because I read somewhere that those are the #1 killers of babies. Just this morning I discovered a penny sitting innocently on the mat in front of the kitchen sink--prime Eamon territory. I don't know where it came from.

The other night we were all in the kitchen and E was crawling around. I glanced over and noticed him chewing on something. I said to him, "Did you find a cheerio under your high chair?" TJ answered for him, "Yes, Mama, I did." I glanced at E again and he seemed to be chewing in a weird way, not the Cheerio chew. I dashed over and stuck my finger in his mouth and found a small, rolled up piece of clear plastic. I have no idea where it came from. I sweep the kitchen multiple times a week, but there it was.

I've never met a mother who didn't have stories like these, and that's comforting, but it doesn't change the fact that the name of the game these days, at least to some extent, has to be Vigilance.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Thinking of my BFFs who are trying to get pregnant and have had it a lot harder than most people from the start (paying for IUI out of pocket with limited funds, for instance), I feel like a jerk for writing the previous post. It feels like a huge indulgence to be waxing on about when to start trying again, how my cycle has changed, what if this or that, and so on, when they are still in the trenches.

Amber's comment has made me realize that a lot of what I'm feeling could be hormonal. Why didn't I think of that?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Fertility, Ovulation (THOSE words again?)

The whole time we were trying to get pregnant with E, I never figured out ovulation. It just wasn't consistent with me. Weird stuff would happen quite often with my cycle, and I never knew why or what was going on in there, despite having tests and surgery, etc. The whole thing felt like a mystery to me. I had theories, but all of them were ultimately made up in my head and can never be proven. Anyway, ever since my cycle has come back following E's birth, it's been VERY, VERY obvious when I ovulate. I still feel so used to the notion of trying to get pregnant that it feels weird, almost unnatural, to let these opportunities go by. It freaks me out to think that we could be missing our one chance. What if this super-duper ovulation stuff doesn't continue and I go back to the way my cycles used to be? This may sound paranoid, but it's happened before. Of course, it doesn't really matter since we did, in fact, end up conceiving. Note to self.

It's not like I desire to be pregnant right now. No! I just feel this almost biological urge to try (what IS that?), if not now, then in a few months. It doesn't help that TJ said yesterday out of the blue that he feels like we should be trying now. We'd previously compromised by agreeing to wait until E is eighteen months, but now I've agreed to revisit the subject in January (no promises!). I'd rather not start before then. If I'm being really honest, though, a lot of my hesitation has to do with the fact that my best friends have been trying to get pregnant since this past January, and I really, really don't want to get pregnant with our second baby before their first is on the way. Oh, it would be awful. Not that anyone can control these things (Lord knows I know that) but I'd just like to wait as long as possible to give them a chance. TJ's point is that it might take us another two years (or who knows how long), and that we can't base this stuff on other people, as much as we want to. But what if it doesn't take that long? What if it happens easily this time?

Well, in any case, we're definitely not trying yet.

Only Mama Will Do, Eleven Months and a Top Tooth

Alongside his debut as a social butterfly, E has also paradoxically become much more attached to Mama lately. He wants to be close to me and preferably be held by me much of the time, not really in social situations so much (ironically) but the rest of the time. He's also started not wanting to go to TJ sometimes (he gives him The Hand). He only wants his mama. The clinginess can be a bit much some days, but I'm also savoring it. My little lovebug. We're starting to be able to cuddle together (as opposed to me just cuddling him) and it's pretty wonderful.

His top left tooth broke through on August 30, by the way, the day he turned eleven months, and the other top tooth isn't far behind.