Bionic Mamas

you're not losing a vagina, you're gaining a son


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Obligatory Drug Shipment Picture

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Criminy.

(It’s okay. I shouldn’t need any of those before next week. The first thing I need is the ovidrel trigger, which wasn’t in that box anyway, since the insurance company won’t fill it until they get the paper prescription. That’s a bit dicey, since I’m supposed to bring it to the clinic on Saturday, just in case it’s time (which I very much doubt), but it turns out I’m allowed to get that one from a regular pharmacy if necessary. I thought I only got to do that once this lifetime (and I already had to for the Bean’s cycle), but it turns out it’s now always allowed for that one drug. So if it comes to it, I figure I’ll get them to write me a new prescription on Saturday and fill it myself that afternoon.)


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Meanwhile, Back At Prostaglandin Ranch

…having my period while barred from NSAIDs and taking care of a toddler (which precludes a Percocet haze) is going just about as fucking well as you might fucking imagine.

I would happily gnaw my way through most of a bottle of ibuprofen, naproxen, or gin right now. Or an electrical cord.

Since, however, the reason to avoid the NSAIDs is because the prednisone is dicey for the GI tract and since following treatment based on the theory that my stomach is contributing to my sinus woes seems to be helping, I will just carry on with my present course of weeping at what must seem to the Bean like complete random.

…maybe just the barest nibble of percocet?

ETA: I took half of one. Still feels like there’s a raccoon in my innards, but at least it’s more lethargic now.


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CD 1 Eve

Hi, internets. You awake? I am, and I’m blaming my new, thrilling PMS symptom of intractable insomnia on the day prior to my period’s arrival. I could be wrong: I’ve been thinking my period imminent for several days, what with cramping and spotting and weeping on the floor at the end of our final (I promise, Starrhillgirl) attempt at toddler yoga, about which more another time. (WTF, spotting? Granted, the volume in question is probably <1% of the pre-hysteroscopy volume, but I thought I was supposed to be done with this, Oh, uterus, you old tease.) This could be just the prednisone, I suppose.

Yes, prednisone again. I returned to the ENT this Thursday, having finished a fourteen-day course of augmentin (which began with six days of prednisone), feeling very, very much improved, expecting to be declared well and sent on my way. 'twas not to be, alas. One aerosolized cocktail of novocaine and decongestant and a scope up the nose later, the doctor declared himself pleased but not pleased enough. So. Ten more days of augmentin, four more of prednisone, come back in a week. I'm beginning to feel I'm getting to know that office too well, rather as one does with the baby factory. And I definitely prefer a dildocam to a nostrilscope.

Still, I am much, much better — practically human now! Thank you for your sympathy on my last post.

The prednisone means no drinking or NSAIDs, still. Clean living! You can imagine, I'm sure, how pleased I was to hear that, given the cyclical date and all. Part of why I am hoping tomorrow is indeed CD 1 is that it's the weekend, which means Sugar can watch the Bean if I need to take Percocet in the daytime as well as at night.

CD 1, those of you following along at home may remember, also means Return to Dildocam Island, aka Baby Factory: The Musical: The Sequel. About this I feel…strangely cold-blooded. Every new stage of TTC the first time around, from deciding to begin, to making appointments with new doctors, even upping the treatment ante, felt exciting (among other things). Just starting the process, let alone having the actual baby, felt like the realization of close to a lifetime's worth of dreaming about having a baby, dreaming that, what with the endometriosis and the relative poverty and the lesbianism, often felt very unlikely to come true. Trying again just doesn't feel like that.

For one thing, those lifelong dreams always included at least one child, but the number was sometimes only one. I spent an enormous amount of time imagining what it would feel like to hold a child of mine on my chest (and feeling the terrible lightness of that child's absence), but I don't have a similarly visceral sense of what holding two children of mine might feel like.

More to the point, I think, is the fact that I am straight-up terrified of going through infancy again. I am just so very much better at this toddler gig, and I don't think it's only a case of being a more experienced mother now, in which case the second iteration of the larval need-bag stage could be reasonably expected to go better than the last. I think it's more to do with coping very poorly with serious sleep deprivation, not being particularly well-treated by breastfeeding hormones (Do I have a mild case of Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex? Maybe.), and, well, being the kind of person who would even think of calling a gurgling bundle of sour-milk-scented joy a larva.

You, of course, know the other thing I’m afraid of: birth, and that whole nightmare roller coaster again. See: everything tagged Dr. Russian. It is entirely possible that much of my feeling distant about the whole TTC business is just protecting myself from thinking seriously about the prospect of facing all that beyond the safe confines of this space. That I started weeping while looking at positive reviews from women who had delivered with my new doctor suggests there could be something to that notion. Throw in a soupçon’s fear of TTC not working, and you have a fine recipe for an aloof Bionic.

It isn’t, I am almost certain, that I don’t want to have another child. I keep asking myself if that’s it, of course, because we are still at a stage where backing out is possible. But no, it’s not that. I do want a sibling for the Bean — and another one of these critters for my own, selfish reasons. I wish I could capture in writing the wry smile the Bean had tonight when Sugar asked if he’d like a fish stick and, champion re-director that he is, he laced his fingers together, leaned across the table like a talkshow host, and said, “ooooor, maybe chocolate?” And did I tell you about the “turtle” he “drew” this week? What’s the turtle’s name, I asked. The Bean uses a kind of movie-Italian speech pattern sometimes now. “It’s-a called Penis,” he said, “It’s a big one.” I think Penis is a weird name for a turtle (maybe it was a skinny baby?), but the point is, this is a pretty great gig.

Last time around, every move we made to get to the Bean was driven by passion, and it’s just different this time. It’s less like I need to have a baby NOW, and more like, I know what I’d like our lives to look like in several years, and this is the time it makes sense to start building that future. I gather more rational people have experiences like this a lot, you know, and plan their lives in an orderly fashion and so on. But it’s a disorienting sensation for an impulsive creature like me. So. Off I go to the clinic, faking it ’til I make it.


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Not Dead, Mostly

One of the hardest things for me to learn in college, which was my first extended period away from a household headed by two doctors, was that when people say, I’d rather not talk about that at the dinner table, they may actually mean it. It took a few years (sorry, everyone), but eventually I learned, more by rote than by true understanding, that many people not raised by wolves scientists actually do feel physically bothered by descriptions of vomit, mucus, and thick, green eyeball-pus.

With that in mind, I’m at something of a loss to describe the past several weeks of life at Casa Biónica. I profoundly hope we are getting better. It remains to be seen.

By we, I mostly mean me. Sugar and the Bean are fine, following their own revolting but brief illnesses. I am on round two of antibiotics and now oral steroids for this sinus infection, which I just don’t know how to talk about without sounding like I am being over-dramatic even by my own standards. It’s just…I’ve been really, really sick, y’all. Like, sick enough that I am 95% sure my teaching evaluations will be bad this semester, because I can’t think and half the time I can breathe or consistently talk, either. Sick enough that Sugar has been sleeping with the Bean, and you know how she feels about cosleeping. Sick enough that I don’t even want to eat ice cream.

I have had a number of go-rounds with my ordinarily great internist, in which I tried to explain that things were Not Right and she worked to convince me that I was having allergies and asthma and would clear out the sinus stuff with just some steroid nasal spray and patience. I have also learned that it is possible to vomit just from nasal spray, if you are pushed hard enough. Also that sinus infections can come out of your tear ducts and give you proper conjunctivitis, and by the way, eye drops can make you puke, too.

Finally, she suggested I see an ENT, who took a horrified look (and some very unpleasant pokes) around the wreck of my head, started using words like “really dangerous” and “worried about you,” and gave me his cell phone number with repeated instructions to call him this weekend if I felt even a little worse despite prednisone and new antibiotics (augmentin…what to get for the woman who has everything, says a chemist friend). I am seeing him again on Tuesday, at which point I gather he may have some results on the cultures he skewered out of me and will adjust the meds if necessary.

Because of the prednisone, he gave me strict instructions to stop taking NSAIDs, which is bad news given the expectant-Zeus style headaches I’ve been having, and not to drink any alcohol, which has not done much for my mood. Also because of the prednisone, I am having the most horrific depression, alternating with fiery rages and the kind of anxiety that feels like your blood has been carbonated. I am tapering now and more hopeful that I will get through this without a homicide conviction, but I’d still recommend keeping your distance, especially if you are one of the people I’ve run into who seem to think all I need is to give up dairy and pour salt water up my nose. (For the record: the infection is now lodged in, among other places, my frontal sinuses, well beyond the reach of snot-potting, and plenty of bacteria are the kind of paleo enthusiasts that don’t miss milk one bit, given a nice, warm chalet snuggled up against a tender brain.)

I’m finally improving enough to write this, though, and I just thought I should let you know that the hysteroscopy didn’t kill me or anything. It was not great and not horrible — a bigger deal than i had imagined, but the whole alien-civilization-in-my-head business has dulled much of the memory of it. (Which would be handy if it hadn’t also wiped clean my short and long term memories, in general.) I have a follow-up with Dr. BF on Wednesday, which I hope will include being cleared for take-off for a May FET. Assuming, that is, I can rid myself of this scourge and the crippling existential angst that apparently accompanies infections for me (ah, my youthful dalliance with giardia!), waking me at five in the morning in a dead panic that I can’t possible handle being pregnant/giving birth/having another baby. Happy spring!


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Addled All Over

Sometimes (read: most of the time) I think I am making things up about my body. That my ailments are manifestations of my addled brain alone, that I imagine or make myself ill as a means of proving to the world that I am special or deserve attention or something.

Is this related to a childhood with a chronically ill mother, one in which I was constantly reminded by the world (though not by her, I hasten to assure you) that she was Sick, that I must never think of my own body, because hers mattered most? Is it related to my fear that I will become sick like her? To, perhaps, an illogical resentment of her being sick? To an even more irrational (but very American) belief that being sick is a matter of morality, health a question of will power? Maybe.

An example: at the Baby Factory the other day, I was divested of several vials of blood, then sent to talk to billing. I leaned against the cubicle wall while the nice woman there showed me paperwork. I was dizzy and had trouble following her points, finding the words I needed to ask questions. But it wasn’t that much blood, after all, not nearly the vats they’d taken before our original, surreal IVF orientation, which I spent convulsively shuddering under a large, wool shawl. Probably I was using the knowledge that blood had been taken as an excuse to indulge myself. Just in case, I ate part of the pastry in my bag while we waited to meet with the scheduler, Maribelle. See? There’s the I indulgence, right there.

Maribelle came to lead us back to her office, and I made sure to walk very close to Sugar, to consciously notice when she slowed her pace. We have to stop so Maribelle can unlock the door, I told myself, carefully, the way you remind yourself to be careful when drunk. (Our acting teachers always said that it was a mistake to play drunk characters as out of control, that what typifies drunkenness is excessive attention to control, where a sober person can relax and still move her body correctly.) I sat down careful at the desk, thought methodically and hard about whether the dark marks on the roof across the street meant it was raining. I planned my route to get a coke after the meeting. I fought the urge to put my head against the glass and close my eyes, and I pretended that I understood what Maribelle was saying, because of course I could understand it if I’d just stop indulging myself.

Sugar watched how firmly I was blinking, how I was graciously apologizing for needing dates repeated, for misunderstanding the protocol and forgetting about the polyp-check. She told Maribelle I’d had blood drawn, and the next thing you know, Maribelle had produced a can of apple juice and a cup, apologizing that the juice wasn’t cold.

And what do you know? After I drank the juice, I didn’t feel dizzy anymore, I could find at least some of my words, and the calendar wasn’t so hard to interpret, either. I don’t much care for apple juice, especially warm, so maybe that it worked means I wasn’t just indulging myself, after all. Maybe I wasn’t well.

Similarly, I found myself wondering last night, when I was finally done with a long, crampy day of first taking care of the Bean, then teaching a night class, then traveling on late-night trains and subways (none of which combines well with serious narcotics), finally able to take first one half and then, still achy, another half of the Percocet tab I’d been thinking of all day, whether I’m just exaggerating the pain of my periods. Sure, they used to be excruciating, but what if I only think I need strong drugs now because I’m afraid of feeling pain, not because the pain I feel now really is all that bad?

Please just take the medicine, Sugar says. You’re not addicted to it, and there is no downside to treating your pain. So I did, a little convinced I just have her fooled, too.

But you know, I don’t think it’s my fear of pain that woke me up, two hours later, gripping my stomach and belly, feeling those familiar knives and stones. I think, maybe, I’m not as healthy as I would will myself to be, if only my will had anything to do with it.


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News From the Front

The bottom of the front, specifically. The front bottom, if you will.

The appointment went well. Dr. Baby Factory did not, after all, yell at me, you will be relieved to hear, though as always, he had that sad look that Sugar reminds me is mostly just how his eyebrows are shaped. His hair’s gotten a bit shaggy, as if the four years since we’ve met (is that all?) have taken him from being the 11-year-old star of the piano recital (as I always thought of him after seeing the picture in his office of him sitting ramrod straight up on one of the Today Show’s couches) to a 15-year-old with a garage band and a penchant for eschaton.

Dr. BF is who first suggested I go to Dr. Russian’s practice for OB, although in fairness he specifically recommended Dr. Robot, who left the practice in my first trimester.  Nevertheless, I decided I would tell him to rethink recommending them, if not for Dr. Russian’s appalling manner (which I know you all believe me about, but which could sound like the whining of a delicate flower) then for the way Dr. Skinny, the head of the practice, dismissed out of hand my was-that-an-abruption bleeding in the days before labor.  It is with deep pleasure that I report to you that he already has a call into Dr. Skinny, because he keeps having her patients come to him, get pregnant, and then refuse to return to her practice.  (Smart women!) So I guess it’s not just me.

While we’re on the subject of Dr. BF, can I just say what an absolute artist that man is at a pelvic exam? Seriously, he is the only person ever whose haven’t hurt; even his double pap smears don’t hurt. (Yes, I am a special snowflake and regularly cry over medical messing about in my lady business(es).  My cervices are on the inside for a reason.) I have to say that here because, 1) it is worthy of praise, and 2) there is no non-creepy way to express this sentiment in the moment.

So, the various bottom lines:

  • I will be making a lot more “bottom” jokes around here in the coming months.  Enjoy.
  • My CD 2 numbers are, I think without digging for my old notebook of data, the best they have ever been.  (FSH 5.6, E2 a shockingly low-for-me 39.)
  • My famous endometriomas (aka, “chocolate cycts,” if you are into ruining your ability to enjoy chocolate forever, which I am not) have apparently disappeared (?) (!).  Is this even possible?  I have noticed less back pain in the past few months, but I certainly felt plenty in cycles since being pregnant.  I am befuddled.  I’ll work on being glad, but right now I’m too confused.  At any rate, the dildo-camming didn’t give me the usual sensation that a smoldering rat is trying to scramble out of my lower back, which was a nice change.
  • We have lots of embryos, and Dr. BF seems optimistic about our chances, or as optimistic as his eyebrows will allow.

Scheduling is a bit of a annoyance, more so than I had anticipated.  I have the good insurance for six months, March-August.  I naively assumed this meant time for several cycles, but I had forgotten that the Baby Factory closes for IVF and like matters three months of the year, and two of those months are April and August.  When the scheduler explained that an April cycle, which was what I had begun to imagine, wasn’t going to happen, I felt bathed in adrenaline.  March?  March?!?  That’s so soon! But waiting doesn’t make a lot of sense, under the circumstances, so March it is.  Then I drank the warm apple juice she’d brought when I got woozy missing the half-gallon of blood they’d siphoned off for still more tests.  When a few molecules of sugar reached my brain, I remembered that I can’t do March, because Dr. BF wants me to come back early next cycle to see if a polyp is what’s making me spot so much before my period or if it’s just my good buddy endometriosis.

So May it is.  I am not entirely sorry to wait, though I had gotten myself slightly excited about Just Doing It.  I am worried that between the possible polyp and the closures, my six months of insurance just became three (and that’s assuming there’s no polyp or that it can come out quick-like in April).  However, billing had a surprise for us: the less-good insurance (under whose begrudging, code-careful auspices we had this consult) actually covers quite a bit more than we had thought.  Doing a cycle with them would still be more expensive than with the good insurance, but it sounds at the moment like it wouldn’t be impossible, especially if we planned ahead and got the drugs while I’m still on the good plan.

May gives me time for a few more visits to the favorite cocktail bar I am just now falling back in love with.  It also gives me some time to get worked up about various parts of this whole gig I wasn’t expecting.

For instance: more shots.  When I was first contemplating IVF, I decided I could deal with the little needles for stims but not the big ones for progesterone-in-oil, and Dr. BF agreed that I could use coochie bullets — excuse me, vaginal suppositories; excuse me, non-American readers, pessaries — instead.  They were messy and sort of annoying, but I was never sorry to be missing the intra-muscular missile to the butt I’d read about on other blogs, still less the bruises and lumps and lingering scar tissue.  But I guess now I get to learn for myself what all the fuss is about, because Dr. BF says (and, I regret to say, that the study I found on the topic agrees) that the delivery method really does make a difference in FET cycles.  Dr. BF says that during my IVF cycle, I was making some progesterone on my own, but that during a medicated FET, I won’t, which means that small differences in efficacy can mean big differences in results.

So one thing I guess I could use about now is some PIO pep-talking, should you have any on hand.  I’m not upset by needles per se, but I am no great fan of personal pain, especially deliberately inflicted, in my own home, every day for three months.  Call me crazy.  However, I also realize that a miscarriage I would always fear I could have prevented is worse.  Great choices, these are.

Okay, I know there are worse choices, I KNOW.  I know that, as subfertile lesbians go, I am sitting very pretty, what with the good clinic and the good insurance and the bewildering array of embryos.  It’s just…I had forgotten what this part, when fear and uncertainty loom so very large, feels like.  Frankly, I thought I got to skip it this time.

Mel asked the other day, after my first return to the Baby Factory for CD 2 blood work, whether I found that some of being back was much easier and some was ten times harder.  Yes.  That is exactly how I found it.  At first, I was giddy, almost, being back in such a powerful place without the dread and exhaustion I remember from the last time around.  This is a cinch, I thought, walking right up to the check-in computer to type my name.  The first time I came in, I stood awkwardly in front of the receptionist’s desk for some time before a woman in a pompadour, whom I did not yet know was nosy as the day is long and none too quick on the uptake, informed me in one of those New York lady klaxon voices that still startle me that I was doing everything wrong, as though it weren’t understandable that a person might imagine their office worked like every other office on Earth.  This time, the receptionists were new and muscle memory guided my hands through the menus as surely as if they were ticket machines at Grand Central.  Bam! I thought, jabbing the CD2 bloodwork button, my doctor’s name, my insurance carrier.  I got this.  I even made a self-deprecating joke about sperm to the guy ahead of me in line.  (Sorry, sir.  I should probably not be allowed in public alone, at least not while giddy.)

As I waited for my name to be called, a strange nausea crept over me.  I hadn’t, I realized, been comparing my present-day self with the me who had first come to the Baby Factory at all; I’d been comparing myself to my memory of that person, a memory colored by knowing that my first visit was only the beginning, that there were miles to go, disappointments and fears and more than a few crying jags.  In fact, that very first me, the one the receptionist startled, was a lot like this me: happy, excited, hopeful.  I had mainly wanted to go to an RE because of my mysterious lady-part arrangement and because my insurance covered it and the Gyn I’d gone to was a dick, so why not?  I imagined we’d leave with a plan, buy some sperm for home use, and have a baby in less than a year. Although our story ended happily, that original me sure had another think coming.

The PIO surprise was like a bucket of cold water to the face in part because I thought this time was going to be so easy.  Aren’t FETs supposed to be so simple compared to a fresh cycle?  I suppose it is simpler, in that I don’t have to come to the office much and won’t get OHSS this time, but I had forgotten that simpler isn’t the same as easy.  I know what to expect from an IVF cycle, but an FET is nevertheless new to me, bringing with it all the anxiety that attends medical novelty.  That I know how to get to the clinic and where to buy a coke after they exsanguinate me for science does not mean I know anything about what’s going to happen, and worse, it doesn’t mean I have any control over the results. I know I’m a lucky subfertile lesbian, but dammit, why can’t I just be a fertile one?  I thought skipping the rounds of IUI this time would make me feel fertile, but that fantasy is crumbling now that I remember that this “fertility” still involves doctors and needles and tenacula and fear.  I never really believed this when we were trying to conceive the first time, but it turns out this secondary infertility jazz is, to paraphrase Smarshy’s memorable image, just a different bag of ass.


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Weaning is Winning

Hey there, internets. Hope you are having lovely weekends and not getting trampled in a stampede of people fighting over discounted Chinese electronics or anything. Black Friday is maybe not really my favorite thing about contemporary American culture. To say the least.

But that’s not what I logged in to say.

The Bean is mostly weaned, it seems. Let’s blame those pseudo rhymes on the item pictured below. Ahem. Anyway, he now nurses every few days in the morning, and not otherwise. He doesn’t always ask, even on the days that I’m home. I think it’s mostly about feeling close, because if i end up sleeping in his room in the second part of the night — and boy, there are some sleep posts I could write these days — he doesn’t ask. It’s only if I am in my own bed when he gets up, and even then, it is sometimes possible to say no (like today, for instance, when I was in bed for a nap, having been in his room, intermittently sleeping, from 3:30 to 5:30). I think he’s about ready to be done.

I’m feeling pretty great about it. My mood is generally better (I always have thought the nursing hormones don’t agree with me, probably because I am a terrible mother/person), and my appetite has dropped so precipitously that I find my dreams of fitting in pre-pregnancy dresses a rekindling. (Weight is another topic for another day, but suffice it to say that I have not found breast feeding the miracle solution it’s advertised as being.)

I’ve noted on other occasions how bad I am at refilling my prescriptions in a timely manner, and I am too loyal to my local pharmacy to do mail order. Last month, I went without nifedipine for a couple of days and was soon spasming away on the bus, which did not improve my mood or commute. One of my big fears about all this Reynaud’s business has been that it won’t go away when I stop breast feeding, leaving me stuck taking nifedipine forever. But this month I messed up again, and what with the holiday it’s been days and days since I’ve had a dose, and…NO NIPPLE SPASMS! Wheeeee! Apparently three sessions a week is about the amount of nursing my nips are built to withstand. Thank God for nifedipine for getting me through the last 19 months.

I celebrated properly, with my first taste of grapefruit in almost two years, done up proper, with rosemary/brown sugar simple syrup, vodka, and Cointreau, plus fresh-squeezed juice. Cheers!

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Notes From A Nor’easter

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Hello, internets. It’s that time again: time for a post, because I did say I’d try to do this every-day gig, but not only time for a post, no, because it is Shark Week (tip of the…hat to May) and that means things hurt and it’s been A Day, what with also the snow and all, and long story short: It’s time for a Percocet Post!

(A somber if not sober note here that the weather is pretty gruesome and I am very worried about people whose homes don’t have power and heat tonight. This storm is not messing around. I expect we will lose a lot of trees — it is very windy, there is heavy, wet snow collecting all over trees that mostly still have their leaves, and I’m sure there are trees and branches weakened by Sandy just looking for an excuse to fall. I hope that doesn’t mean more people losing power and roofs and even lives, but I wouldn’t bet on it. If you are the praying type, this would be a good use of your efforts.)

I feel I should say something about the election, but in fact I do care very much about politics and policy and the future of our country and all that, and I rather pride myself on thinking pretty hard about these things, and tonight I’m afraid all I’m capable of is roughly, OMG I WANT TO GAY MARRY TAMMY BALDWIN SO BAD! AND ELIZABETH WARREN AND MICHELLE OBAMA, BUT MOSTLY TAMMY BALDWIN BECAUSE SHE IS ACTUALLY GAY AND ALSO SHE’S A SMITHIE!! Omg!!!

But I will try not to do that. Because it’s embarrassing. And because “gay marry” is the oppressor’s language. I want to just plain old regular marry Tammy Baldwin.

In place of that kind of thing, here are some Bean-related Items.

Item: after several weeks of calling us both “Mama,” the Bean has suddenly cottoned onto the Mama/Mommy distinction. He is delighted with himself. I am delighted with him. I’m also happy that he seems satisfied with those names; we’ve been using them, but you never know what will stick, and it all feels a little foolish sometimes. Complicating the matter, his babysitter shares my (somewhat unusual) first name. So I’m also glad that she and I have separate identities.

Item: he’s doing this crazy-adorable thing now where he takes hold of your hand —usually Sugar’s — and uses it to pet his own head. It is hard to explain how sweet this is, in a very bossy way.

Item: He reads his books to himself now, sometimes in a whisper. Reading in this case consists of going through the pages and saying the words he knows go in that part of the story — not all of them, of course, and mostly nouns. This pleases me. A lot.

Item: I don’t know whether this is a sudden uptick in language or in cognition, but he is starting to tell little stories about things he has done. On Saturday, for instance, we went to the zoo. At god-awful o’clock Sunday morning, when I was trying to delay our getting out of bed, I asked him if he remembered going to the zoo and seeing the animals. He sat bolt upright and got this far-off look. Zoo? He said. Yes, I said, we saw monkeys. Monkeys! He paused. Goats! Duckies! He proceeded to look into the distance, naming animals, getting more and more pleased. Plus, I didn’t have to get out of bed for several more minutes. WIN.

Oh, would you look at that? My wife is putting dinner on the table. In this moment of historic support for marriages like ours, the least I can do is go eat it.

Vaguely incoherent x’s and o’s,
Bionic


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Quickly Thursday

Internets! I keep thinking I’ll find time for real posts, but the semester is kicking my ass pretty hard. So. Let’s see what I can speed-type before the Bean wakes up (and God, heap blessings on the head of his babysitter for taking him to the playground to get worn out). ETA: He’s peacefully reading his Donald Crews truck book from the library (OMG it is such an awesome book), so you get pictures, too.

Item: Naptime nursing session is done! And pretty painlessly, at that, if you don’t count this weird engorgement kick my boobs went on about two weeks in, who knows why except to continue their tradition of driving me nuts.

I’m away from the Bean at nap time Mondays through Thursdays, so on week one, I nursed him down on Friday and then made Sugar do naps on the weekend. The following Thursday, we were on a train to Virginia, it was hours past nap time, and he was a wreck, so I did nurse him. I thought this would be bringing us back to square one, since he would still have the pattern of nursing before naps when I am available, but I gave putting him down with a bottle a try for the two days (Friday and Sunday) that I had to handle naps in Virginia, and it worked! It was the wildest thing, and I am certain it is due to the magic of Starr Hill and starrhillgirl in particular — he slept through the night with almost no problem there, despite our sharing a room, and woke up happy, every time. Who wouldn’t be happy to wake up in starrhillgirl’s bedroom, though, I ask you?

On that Monday, we were back on the train, and I did nurse him, but that’s been that. Woo!

Item: I haven’t started doing anything about the next feed to go, partly because being down to two is such a relief. I have a lot more patience for the whole business now that it is only two, short sessions, neither of which is supposed to end in his falling asleep. I’m even finding I don’t mind going without a book or iPad to look at, which is saying something. (I know there is a school of thought that it’s Terrible to do anything but Gaze Adoringly at a nursing child — I have recently been admonished by one book that even talking while nursing a newborn is an inappropriate distraction — but frankly, I have been grateful for distractions that let me at least feel like a milk cow with a brain. Clearly, I don’t hate nursing, or I’d have given it up long ago, but as miraculous as the whole thing is, the moment to moment…. It gets a little dull, and I get stir-crazy.) Anyway, it’s a nice way to be winding down with the whole business.

Item: I imagine bedtime makes the most sense, although it’s true that he is already going without the morning session two days a week. Hmmm. We’ll see.

Item: Bedtime is becoming baroque. For a week or two, he was refusing to go down for me at all, but when we tried making it Sugar’s job, he balked at that, too. So now the deal is that Sugar gets him pajama’d and brushed and so forth. Then I try to read him a story, while he alternately demands to nurse (Guess who started saying “nurse? Nurse?” the very week I started weaning him? Dab hand at guilt, this one) and to have his bottle with Sugar. I nurse him for a few minutes, sometimes while Sugar plays the piano, then I leave and she takes over with a bottle, and then (if all goes well) he goes down pretty peacefully.

It’s a Bit Much, but oddly it still takes less time than it used to for me to put him down, so there’s that. I’m also hoping that adding elements will mean there is still some routine left to follow when the nursing part goes. We’ll see.

Item: we visited starrhillgirl! It was The Greatest, as I bet you can imagine. Bourbon was had, as was gin. Country ham made its way into biscuits. Classrooms were visited, as was the local grocery I am terribly fond of, what with their house-label canned goods and their county ham and their canning aisle.

The Bean read his first Dykes To Watch Out For book…

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…and seemed to love it.

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There was chicken watching and boudin-eating (thanks to shg’s terribly generous friend) and almost enough just sitting on the porch swing and talking. Sugar did more work on her long-running photo series of houses inhabited by the same family for 20+ years. (shameless plug for Sugar here. Any of you have family or friends she should visit around NYC?)

Item: So much talking! I feel like the Bean adds three words a day. God, I just love it. He’s also playing with language in different ways; for instance, he spent a couple of weeks adding “ie” to the ends of words he uses a lot, such that walk became walkie and book, bookie (heh), and so forth. I ask his babysitter if he got it from her, but apparently it’s just something he thought was fun. Probably because it makes everything sound more like a cookie.

Item: The word of the day is pee. For a few weeks now, he has been saying “pee” to us when we are in the bathroom, but it has not at all been clear to me that he knows what the word means, except that it’s something we talk about in there. But today, he was saying it, and after we wrestled off his diaper, he peed in his potty. I am shocked. And pleased. And apparently now a person who talks about pee on the Internet. Other people’s pee, I mean; obviously mine has been fair game for some time.

Other bathroom skills:

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Item: Night sleep is rocky again, and now he only settles for Sugar. Poor Sugar. I will say again that the smartest pre-baby parenting decision I ever made was to insist on buying an Ikea chaise so that there was an adult sleeping place in his room.

Item: Eating is still picky as all get, but at least his caloric needs seem to have dropped enough that failing to eat a big meal doesn’t ruin the whole day and night. I still rather want to stab people — including my former self — who smugly believe that raising a child with a broad palate is just a matter of confidently offering the foods you want them to eat. I’d love it if the Bean would steal things off my plate or even open his mouth to taste a new thing, but it’s not happening. (I know it takes 15 or whatever tries to get used to a flavor, but how many sightings does it take to get a try?) His doctor says his diet is okay and that the pickiness could be worse, and that in the long run, children eat like their parents. I sure hope she’s right.

At least he will touch brussels sprouts.

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Item: I ran out of nifedipine for a couple of days (yes, I’m bad at this), and even only nursing twice a day, the nips still need it. Sheesh. I am really, really, really hoping they aren’t just going to be like this for the rest of my life, as I don’t like the idea of taking this pill forever. Nor of giving up grapefruit forever, especially if that means no sea breezes with May.


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Wean-y Thoughts

Oh, internets.  Can you help me with my boobs again?

I’m pretty done with this nursing business.  I know Brooklyn moms aren’t supposed to wean before kindergarten, but even so.  I think I’ve done what I can do.  I’ve persevered through Weightgate and the Very Bad Months of untreated Reynaud’s.  I’ve kept at it despite the early return of my period and its attendant supply-plummets.  I’ve eaten oatmeal (a food I do not love), drunk gross teas, and dutifully taken my blessed nifedipine every day or felt the consequences.  Nifedipine is the kind of drug whose metabolism is sensitive to the presence of furanocoumarins (you’re welcome, vocab nerds), so I have dutifully avoided grapefruit, grapefruit juice, and more to the point in this trendy town, cocktails containing either.  Okay, okay, that’s not a big sacrifice, but I really could use a drink.

Breastfeeding is hard for lots of people, but I think it’s fair to say I am in the “worse than average” category.  Frankly, it still hurts most days, at least some of the time.  I hear it’s “not supposed to,” but them’s the breaks, I guess.  I’m grateful that I was able to do it at all, but the Bean is a big, strapping boy these days (a whopping 7th percentile for weight at his last visit, but holding his curve more convincingly now) with his very own immune system, he seems adequately bonded to me, and I’m unconvinced there’s much more he has to gain from all this.  As for me, one reason I didn’t want to wean sooner was in order to soften some of those early, horrible memories.  I’ve now nursed back over the seasons that were so hard for me in 2011, and I’m not sure what’s left for me to gain, either.  If I am to try to get pregnant again in the spring or summer, the Baby Factory will want me to have weaned, and anyway a few months’ break from supporting another human with my body doesn’t seem like the craziest idea ever.

Meanwhile, see below, the Bean has lately decided he doesn’t want to go to sleep at night for anyone but Sugar, so there’s one big boob advantage all blown to hell anyway.  Which brings us to issues of practicality.  Weaning all at once seems more than I can handle, intensity-wise, but I’m not sure what method does make sense.  Dropping one feeding at a time, right?  But which one?  And how to avoid being clawed to death by tiny little fingernails when I say no?

Assuming I am available all day, the Bean nurses three times: when we first get up, when he goes down for his nap, and at bedtime.  Because my Monday-Thursday schedule varies, none of these things happens every day, and on some days, only one of them does.  On Mondays, for example, I leave before he gets up and miss his nap, so he goes 24 hours between nursing sessions (Sunday night to Monday night).  Friday-Sunday, I usually do all three, except Jess sometimes puts him down for naps, in which case he gets a bottle.

(Yes, I have been nursing him to sleep for some months, despite being quite proud of not doing that early on.  Frankly, it has been the least of our considerable sleep problems, and a girl’s got to triage sometimes.  He’s not always asleep when I put him down, but it is always the last thing we do, and sometimes he is asleep.  He is never asleep when Jess puts him down after a bottle, and he does not take the bottle to bed.)

The morning nursing is, I think, the Bean’s favorite.  If I am not there, he is reportedly quite unhappy, and if I am only sleeping in, he usually wants to nurse whenever I do get up.  It’s not my favorite.  I like that it buys me a little more time in bed, but it always hurts, quite aside from the climbing and scrambling and feet-to-the-eye maneuvers typical of toddler-nursing.

The nap-nursing is the one I was ready to drop at the end of the summer, after months of being home with him every day.  (I didn’t, because we were about to go on that epic train trip, and I was not interested in establishing new routines just in time to blow them to smithereens.)  Increasingly, he doesn’t go to sleep from it anyway, and it’s the time he’s most likely to be tiresome about the whole process.

Bedtime is the nursing session I like best.  It’s the least likely to hurt, and by the end of the day, it’s nice to have a job that is mostly sitting in a dim room reading my email. However, it’s increasingly not working as a means to get the Bean to sleep.  Even if he falls asleep during the process, he wakes up the second I move him, springs to his feet, and starts screaming.  If he’s not asleep, he skips the waking up part.  This continues as many times as I go through the cycle, so Sugar ends up having to go into him after I’ve left.  She sometimes gives him a bottle and sometimes just sits by him, he is quiet, and the whole thing is over quickly.  (This, perhaps unreasonably, pisses me off.)  On Wednesday night, she wasn’t home, so he just screamed after I left.  For twenty-five minutes.  (Have I mentioned the household austerity measures that include no longer drinking on weeknights?)  Last night, I nursed him while she played the piano, at which point I left, she gave him a bit of a bottle, which he didn’t finish, and was out of the room in five minutes.

So it seems like the bedtime session, my favorite, might be the easiest to drop.  This would also stretch my non-nursing periods to over 24 hours (Sunday afternoon until Tuesday morning, for example).  I may have to sleep with cabbage in my shirt.

Then there is the issue of what to do instead of nursing during these times.  I suppose I will just give him bottles, despite our pediatrician’s request that he be done using them by 12 months.  She didn’t seem too horrified at the idea, just said we’d have to deal with that later.  In fact, she looked quite sweet when I told her how fondly I remember my own favorite bottle, which I used occasionally up until age five or so.  It was shaped like a dog, with blue ears.  I called it Freddy.

…your thoughts?