Saturday, October 24, 2009

Busy making other plans...

The picture you see here is the current state of my fingernails. Or, to be more accurate, it is the current state of my LACK of fingernails. The past few days have been among the most nerve wracking days I have ever experienced.

Last Thursday, we brought M to the pediatrician for his 4 months check up. This was a new pediatrician, and we were hopeful that we would like this office and doctor more than the previous one we'd used. The appointment was going wonderfully and we, M included, really liked the CRNP that was treating him. We were almost done with the appointment when she did the requisite check of his head and soft spots.

Somehow we went from a great visit to being written an Rx for a CT scan of M's head in 2 seconds flat.

It seems that when she was feeling his head, she couldn't feel the soft spot at the front of his head open. As I later learned, this is called the anterior fontanel and it doesn't usually start closing until about 9 months. We were reassured that if it had closed, it wasn't a major health issue. Of course, it would still require a referral to a pediatric neurosurgeon.

Let me tell you, the words, "PEDIATRIC NEUROSURGEON" were flashing before my eyes like they were on a Vegas marquee.

We were sent on our merry (scary) way, with reassurances that the imaging office would contact us to set up an appointment that afternoon. I dropped J and M off at home and went back to work. I'm not quite sure how I managed to be productive, as I was staring at my phone every 45 seconds willing it to ring.

In my rational mind, I knew there was nothing more that I could do that day. But the inner Mama was screaming, "What are my next steps?! Let's get a plan of action! I need to DO something."

We were able to schedule the CT scan for the next afternoon. I have done some difficult things in my lifetime. I have had a baby cut out of my body! I have been there as people and animals I love have died. Looking back on it now, I don't think that anything I have done was as difficult as seeing the terror in M's eyes as he was strapped into the CT machine, hearing his cries, and having to walk out of the room. Thankfully we were using new technology, and the flash CT only took 45 seconds to complete the scans.

On Monday and Tuesday, I tried to wait patiently for the results. I managed to only call the pediatrician's office once each day. On Tuesday afternoon the nurse called me back and let me know that she spoke to the imaging office and would have the report the next morning. C tells me that I have more patience than most people she knows. I didn't feel it.

Wednesday morning, I woke up to the most beautiful voice mail I have ever received. M's anterior fontanel was not prematurely fused at all. He's just thick headed, like his daddy. And, to be fair, his mama too.

Life has been extremely stressful these past few months. J has been laid off twice this year when the companies he worked for went under. And in between those, he thought it would be cute to get appendicitis at the same time I had crippling edema from my pregnancy. Which, of course, was 2 weeks before we were moving into our current house. And those are just some of the highlights.

After the last week, it's all gravy. My boy is healthy and happy. God is good, and I am blessed.

Friday, October 23, 2009

For your convenience...

C and I have heard from a few people that we need a way to differentiate who is blogging, prior to the signature line.

Never let it be said that we cannot accept feedback and apply it. Here's how it's going to work:

I, D. will write in purple. She, C. will write in green. Hopefully this makes for a less confusing reading experience for you all!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Blog Action Day - Climate Change

While we all need to be personally conscientious regarding our carbon footprint , we should also encourage the businesses we work for and with to do the same. I was pleased to see the Fortune 500 company I work for doing their part via recycling, including a strong alliance with the RBRC's Call2Recycle efforts. The RBRC provides a way for you to recycle your rechargeable batteries and cell phones easily. Please see the link, if you want more information.

For years, companies and individuals continued to carelessly pollute the air, water, and soil primarily out of ignorance. As a result of the uneducated indifference by most of the residents of the U.S. and world, we are now living with the results of ours and previous generations behaviors and actions. We cannot go back in time and undo what was done then, but we can each make a contribution now.

This is one area in which we cannot pass the responsibility to others. We must all play a role in doing what we can to minimize the negative impact on our planet and encourage and educate others around us to do the same. It has been a tradition belief among Americans to make it just a bit better for the next generation. What can you do to make a difference?

As my favorite children's singer, Raffi, points out in his lyrics from "Evergreen, Everblue,"
Evergreen, everblue
At this point in time,
It's up to me, it's up to you

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day 2009

Today is Blog Action Day 2009, and The Mommy Gap is participating!

If you'd like to know more about Blog Action Day, check out the link in the title.

So, why is a mommy blog participating in a discussion about climate change? For this very simple reason: I don't want my son to grow up thinking that polar bears only live in zoos.

Red state, blue state, or quite possibly purple state, wherever you may live and whatever your personal political beliefs may be this is something that will impact us all. In fact, it has already started to impact us. Granted, I don't live in a northern state, but when it's 92 degrees in the middle of October something is wrong!

Even the smallest actions can positively impact your carbon footprint. Here are some of the things we do at Casa de Crazy to help:
  1. We use cloth diapers.

  2. We breastfeed. (No need to make formula or the can you put it in for my kid, thanks!)

  3. I am a HAWK about use of electricity. To the point of nagging, my husband might say.

  4. When we chose our home, the natural shading by trees in the front and backyard were part of our decision making process. More shading means less need for air conditioning.

  5. We use cloth and reusable bags at the grocery store.

  6. We recycle everything we can.

  7. We are a one car household.

Everything helps, and you can make small changes if you're not ready to make big ones. One of my friends lobbied my employer until they finally put recycling bins in our office. But, until they did that, we had volunteers throughout the building who would take recycling home. Something as simple as that can make a positive change.

Besides, if we don't do SOMETHING, Noah Wyle is going to keep making commercials that make me cry at 3:00 a.m. I need my sleep, interwebs. Take a small step toward a big change.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Smit, hmm?

Well, if we are calling out things we are smitten with, or smit, as you dubbed it, this is mine. The kid, the boy, the monkey, the big M.
Why? Maybe because I was privileged enough to see him enter the world and take his first breath. Because he is the payback for the mothering, because he will likely never say " I hate you, Grandma." He will think I am all that because I get to be the fun one, finally. And because, there is nothing like seeing the next generation arrive, surprising you with the genetics that just won't gracefully disappear.

You're on my Smit List!

When I love something, I like to say that I am smitten; sometimes I go so far as to say I am in deep smit.

With that being said, submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, I am starting the Smit List. This is where I am going to talk about things that I am smitten with.

Smit List: Flip Video Camcorder

I first heard about the Flip at Rosie O'Donnell's blog. I was intrigued, and was ecstatic when I got one for Christmas 2007.

Why I Love the Flip
  1. It is the perfect size to hold in your hand without being clunky.

  2. It has great video and sound quality.

  3. It's perfect for short video clips, which is all I have time for.

  4. It comes loaded with software to allow you to screenshot, edit, and share your video.

  5. It is the reason that I was able to capture M triumphantly getting his foot into his mouth for the first time.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Law of Physics? Perhaps.

I think it really comes down to "for every action, there is a reaction." Let's take this back one more generation to my grandmother, A. Ah, now she was a treasure trove for psychologists to weigh in on. I didn't understand what made her tick, nor did her daughter, my mother. The difference between her impact on us, was that I was fairly immune to her overbearing, judgmental personality. She wasn't my mother after all, but she was the catalyst that impacted my mother.

A. was a school teacher and having sat in her classroom, I would rather have been her student than her child. She was no nonsense, but also reserved her kindness for her pupils. I cringed as my mother relayed to me that when it was bedtime, my grandmother would turn her cheek up to be kissed. That was the extent of her motherly warmth. A. actually turned to me one time when she was visiting and in the midst of one of her diatribes declared that if I had something to say I should "raise my hand." The woman could talk like no one I have ever known. In our family, when traces of this arise in others it is called "A. disease" and trust me, all of us have some elements of it. This is also the same woman who showed up for an unannounced visit, from New York to Maryland, and turned on her heels and drove back home because she disapproved off the outfit her daughter was wearing as she cleaned the house. Oh scandal - yes stretch pants and a sheer chiffon blouse (in her own home). Horrors!

So bringing it back to physics, my mother, S., vowed never to be this kind of mother. Instead she was warm, affectionate, read to me in bed every night when I was young and empowered me to believe in myself. She herself in later years, post my teenage indignation against authority, admitted she had perhaps gone a bit overboard. S. was determined to not raise someone who might lose themselves in the effort to please others. Job well done, Mom, it has taken me years to temper my tongue and actions. I am in no way blaming my mother, she was simply reacting to what she had known.

Then I come along, growing up watching my mother knock herself down and constantly questioning her worth. My love for my mother made this difficult and frustrating. I saw how wonderful she was, why couldn't she? My father's strong personality exacerbated the situation and I believe she truly had to get to the point of feeling like she was in quicksand before she was able to pull herself up and leave. My father many years later commented that he sensed the hidden inner strength within her and tried to keep it from surfacing because it was threatening. And in the end, it did surface with a force even I could not imagine when she found herself battling cancer. Not once, even through months of difficulty speaking and not being able to eat, did she engage in a pity party. If anything, the feisty side of her took control - I knew she had it in her.

So, D. references my mother's last days and death as a catalyst to cause change in us both. I believe it is true. I did not focus on how it might produce this result in D., but there was a moment in the freezing cold parking lot outside the Saranac Lake hospital, that I confronted that need to take on some of my mother's gentleness. I did not see it while it was happening, but now know that it did. That is not to say my journey is done.

Oh yes, I have experienced the same frustration and envy over my mother's and daughter's ability towards calm acceptance over the years, but I have also seen my mother move towards the middle refusing to always give in to others and know that my daughter will do so as well. Extremes always make life difficult. Think about those pendulums with the line of silver balls hitting against each other, those on the outside start the action, but all react. Sometimes we need to be the catalyst and sometimes, it is better to be the buffer. Balance, I have learned it is all about balance.

Flaws, D., don't even get me started. In the end, in spite of your best mothering efforts, M. will have them. It's okay. In the end the generations weave together as threads creating a tapestry, one thread influences the path of the next, pulling from the strengths of the others and covering up the flaws.

And that is the journey of motherhood; watching our children develop does not end with their entry into adulthood because they are still in the process of becoming who they will be. Our blessing is watching it all unfold.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Mother, Myself?

My grandmother, C's mom, was a dynamic woman. She was kind, loving and funny. She was an amazing cook; she could knit like no one's business. She loved dogs, reading, the outdoors. I think it would be fair to say that her biggest fault was that she was too concerned with other people. She knew this and as a result, she raised a daughter who would always stand up for herself.

C will tell you herself that she lived most of her life refusing to be passive. She is fiery and independent, sometimes to a fault. It's oddly ironic that her daughter, me, was much more like her mother in temperament.

When my grandmother passed away in February of 2007, it was a catalyst for C and me. We both resolved to change things about our personalities; I wanted to stand up for myself more and C wanted to learn when to hold her tongue.

C and I were talking about this the other night, and discussing the changes we've seen in each other in the past few years. C has definitely learned the value in waiting to address issues until she's calmed down and discussion will have the maximum positive impact. In turn, I've learned to speak up for myself and not worry so much about keeping the peace at any cost.

All of this got me thinking about how we, as mothers, handle the flaws we see in our children. In my short time as a mother, I've already learned one of the basic truths. We want to be able to fix everything for our children; we want them to have it better than we've had ourselves.

When it comes to flaws, is it better to let our children learn for themselves? Surely, we'd hope, they would listen to the wisdom we've gained from making so many mistakes ourselves. Experience tells me, this isn't always the case. True, I haven't really had to impart much wisdom to M as of yet. Unless you consider, "No one wants to hang out with boys who have poopy pants," motherly wisdom. I do, however, have two younger brothers. Of course there have been times where they've actually listened to what I had to say and applied it. But more often, they have to go through things in their own time and their own way to really understand what I was trying to tell them in the first place.

Why do flaws in our children bother us? I know that I've always heard that the way you know you've found your soul mate is that they love you, flaws and all. If that's the case, why do we want to fix them in our children? Could it be that what we're trying to fix is the reflection of our own flaws we see in them?

I find myself wondering what M's flaws will be. Will he be a champion procrastinator? Or, maybe not a champion since he kept putting off completing the application to the Procrastination Olympics. Will he have issues with organization? Will he be a nail biter? A chronic air drummer? A collector of all things ridiculous, especially dogs?

What I hope is that whatever these flaws may be, I'll be able to keep two things in mind when dealing with them. First, we are all flawed. Second, often it's our flaws that end up teaching us the greatest life lessons.

That is, of course, unless his flaws turn out to be his current interests in shrieking as loudly as he can and drooling. If that's the case, we're going to have some issues...and some interesting teenage years.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

In Any Given Moment...

A year ago yesterday, my entire world changed in an instant. On 9/30/08, I found out that there was a second heart beating within me.

In the days leading up to the 30th, I went through a spectrum of emotions. It was unusual for me to be late, and I started to wonder if I could be pregnant. At the same time, I didn't want to believe I could be. I was worried that I'd be too disappointed if I let myself hope. I was also nervous about the possibility of a positive test. Though my husband and I had been together for almost 5 years, we'd just recently gotten married. We weren't planning to start a family for at least a year, if ever. I didn't know how my husband would react if I was pregnant.

Finally, after almost a week I worked up the nerve to buy a test. I wanted no room for questions, and bought the digital read out test. The instructions said to wait for 3 minutes for a result. I didn't even have to wait for one minute. There it was, no doubt at all. I was pregnant.

I walked out of the bathroom with the test in my hand. My husband was still in bed, playing with one of our dogs. He looked up and met my eyes with his own. I'm sure he knew then, but I had to vocalize it. "There's someone in there," I said.

Saying it out loud made it real, and I was totally overwhelmed with emotion. I fell onto the bed crying. Looking back, I think this may have freaked J out a bit. I wasn't crying because I was unhappy. I was equal parts thrilled and terrified. I was so excited about the possibility of a person that was equal parts J and I. At the same time, I was afraid to get too excited knowing that the first trimester is the most dangerous time for a pregnancy. I was also worried that I wouldn't be a good mother.

To his credit, J remained completely calm. He held me and soothed me. He reassured me that everything would be fine. He told me how much he loved me, and what a good mother he knew I would be. I am so lucky to have a husband like him.

Looking at my beautiful boy yesterday, I couldn't believe a year had gone by so quickly. A year ago I found out he was there. I didn't know anything else about him, but I already loved him so much my heart ached.

Here we are, a year later. M turned 4 months old today. This week he has figured out how to get his foot in his mouth. He met his birthday buddy, my co-worker's son born just a few hours before him. He tried rice cereal for the first time and loved it. Then he tried rice cereal with pureed blueberries, and liked that even more.

It makes me think about something my mom and I have talked about recently. You may be going through strife and struggles, but you have no idea where you'll be in a year's time. The only constant in life is change. Everything is only for now.

Looking to the future, I realize that a year from now I'll have a 16 month old boy. He'll be so different from the baby I nursed to sleep tonight. I'm sure I'll look back and wonder how he grew and changed so quickly. But in the meantime, I look forward to all the adventures, laughs, hugs, and kisses we'll have from here to there.