Something

Apparently all I needed to do was update the blog: my Possum was born Saturday morning at 6 a.m., after two hours of labor. I dare not have another baby, lest I do so in under an hour and simply explode.

I think I’m going to call him Kit on the blog, like a baby fox, since the nurse who caught him announced that he is a redhead (time will tell!); he was 9 pounds 12 ounces at birth, and is managing the dubious trick of appearing simultaneously tiny and gigantic.

More posting very soon, just as soon as I stop walking into walls.

Nothing

Sorry to drop off the face of the earth for so long, and thanks for asking after me—I am, in fact, still pregnant—the most pregnant I’ve ever been. Today is my due date, I am gigantic, but the Possum seems fine and I’m feeling surprisingly patient about the whole thing. My sister Kate came to visit, hoping to see the birth, but she’s leaving tomorrow morning and I am still just having prelabor. My father’s also leaving town, going to Ireland for most of the summer, and they’d both very much like to meet Tiny when he arrives. Ah, well.

 

It’s hard to explain why I’ve been gone; I’m tired, of course, but I’ve been tired before. The only adoption news is that Ruth and Nora are now a year behind on sending pictures as per our open adoption agreement, and they’ve stopped liking pictures of Joey on Facebook (I know how dumb that sounds, but we tend to like pictures of the boys that the others post, and they have stopped). Radio silence. It doesn’t seem like the right time to push, since we’re about to be pretty busy, but I have enough time to notice and be discouraged.

 

I’ll try to update promptly once our Possum arrives—the OB seems content to let us wait at least another week without a fight, which is a relief, so it could be a week or two. Or perhaps I’ll give birth while my family is on the way to the airport. Who can say?

A Reader Asks:

When are you due? Very soon, right?

I’m just past thirty-seven weeks pregnant; the baby could come at any time, although I bet I’ve got a couple of weeks. This is the first pregnancy for which I’ve seen an OB, and I am hating it—I am not offered information or a chance to make decisions, but am rather just sort of shuffled through the office and handed conclusions. Next week I’m taking in my list of preferences for the birth, and we’ll see how that goes. The doctor is a very nice man, no question, but the medical model for handling pregnancy just drives me right up the wall (but is all that my current insurance will cover, damn it). I’m in excellent health, my blood pressure is great, I have no swelling, and now I get to tell Dr. P that I don’t want an IV (group B strep negative represent!), I want to be able to eat and drink, I don’t want continuous monitoring, I want to be able to move around . . . we’ll see how it goes. The plan is for my mother to be with me in labor, and as a midlevel healthcare provider herself (and former childbirth instructor and birth coach), she’s a strong advocate. This will be my first hospital birth, and I am unable to muster anything more enthusiastic than grim resolve. Except for the baby part! Tomorrow we’re getting a dresser for the Possum’s tiny clothes, which I have been washing and folding all week. My hospital bag is mostly packed—more packed than it was for Joey’s birth, in fact—and we have some tiny diapers ready to go.

I can’t wait to meet this kid. It’s going to be awfully interesting to see how he’s different from Joey, and in what ways he’s similar—perhaps this one will like swaddling! And hats! . . . Or be colicky! And yes, it turns out that, as Dr. P put it: “[Mr. Book], you keep making the same things!” We had a name crisis, but have a good boy’s name picked out now and plenty of tiny blue things. This is our last child, we’re both quite sure, unless there is some kind of divine intervention. While I think I’m having the healthiest pregnancy so far (I’ve been healthy all three times, but really doing well this time), I’ve had an incredible amount of false labor, which I’m told only gets worst in subsequent pregnancies. It’s pretty miserable, and a reason that I’ve been much less present online than I’d like to be; I am spending much of my limited free time either in the bath or curled up on a couch, reassuring myself that this isn’t the real thing, just painful and pointless.

Joey, though, has come through a rough brain patch beautifully, and while more of a handful than ever (I sort of regret not getting a picture of the Kleenex Apocalypse from earlier today), we’re enjoying him a lot. He’s got such a sweet and basically easy-going personality that it’s hard not to worry about rolling the dice again. But oh, I know that it’s worth it.

Mixed Bag

I am having a hard time. Happily, things aren’t all hard at the same time—the Snerks is just amazingly fun, if really able to get into trouble now—he can open the garbage can, open our sliding doors, and managed yesterday to tip over a nearly-full cup of lukewarm coffee onto a pale carpet. Sure, that was my fault (I ran to the back of the house for something, literally ran, but it takes no time at all for him to accomplish these things), but as I cleaned the carpet, he kept trying to eat the cleaning agents and smiling at me. It is a very toddler time. He’s so playful and sweet, even when he is absolutely determined to pull dishes off the table/drive the cats to suicide/climb into the fireplace—he’s having a great time, and he wants us to have a great time with him. I am very grateful for the ball pit.

Still no work for the Mister, although he’s had a couple of interviews; we’re both discouraged, although I am trying to see each interview as a step closer to eventual work.

We had a Skype date with Cricket and Ruth today. It was awkward, although Cricket was very excited about the ball pit and asked his mom whether he can have one—he also called out to Joey, trying to get his attention and succeeding briefly. (Joey was otherwise occupied, trying to tangle himself up in my yarn.) Ruth is still planning on the three of them visiting at the end of April, although the amicable coparenting arrangement they had planned on is looking more challenging than they had at first thought it would be. I have already delicately mentioned that we have spare sleeping spaces in more than one room and will let it rest there until and unless they buy plane tickets.

That was Friday; it’s Monday now. Yesterday we went to Hollywood for the afternoon—my father gave the Mister and myself tickets to an NPR taping of an Oscar special, which was fun, and then we wandered around, looked at handprints in cement and ate some pizza. There really are good things going on, but I’m still quietly having a hard time. But it’s something I can live with. The pregnancy is emotionally harder than my last one, which I hadn’t really expected; there are days and days when it feels like a thing that I am doing to Joey. I talked to a mother who has two girls born fifteen months apart, and she talked about preparing her older daughter for the birth of the baby—she bought and cared for a baby doll, which is what I’ve heard advised for dog owners, funnily enough. I can’t imagine Joey being able to understand what’s about to happen, so while I’ve talked about it with him a couple of times, the only result that I can see is that he will now point to the picture on his container of wipes and say “Baby.”

Listing

My brother has both TTP and chronic kidney disease, it turns out; the TTP can be cleared up relatively quickly (probably: some people do die of it0, but for the other he will need long-term dialysis and eventually a transplant.

Ruth wants to Skype some time this week, which is a relief—I don’t know how things are going to change, now that their lives are changing, and it’s nice to see that at least right now, they want more contact than the contract stipulates they provide us/Cricket.

I’m halfway through this pregnancy. Nuts, huh? I haven’t only been posting about it seldom—I haven’t been thinking about it nearly as much as I did the last times, maybe because chasing Joey doesn’t leave me a lot of time to just put a hand on my stomach and think. But things are going well, and a friend read the tarot and told me that it’s a girl, and while I don’t believe in that sort of thing, I’m just running with that assumption. No official word yet.

While I’ve been working on Cricket’s sweater, Joey has occasionally played with my ball of yarn like a kitten, getting tangled up and looking awfully pleased with himself. It’s nice to have him involved.

Joey had a rough patch of several days—probably some combination of him having brain changes and the rest of us being upset about my brother and the troubles up north—but came out the other side his sunny self.

Joey pointed at some yellow flowers, and I went through our usual routine (“Those are flowers: What can you tell me about them?”) and he said “Flowya bayeah (flowers banana).” That’s right! Yellow like a banana! I was amazed. A lot of new words, a lot of eating of fruit.

I’m reading books about homeschooling in a Montessori-ish way; since we’re not going to put Joey in preschool, I think I’ll try to do some of that kind of thing here together. I’m getting pretty interested, and it’s nice to have a long time to think about what exactly my goals are and how to implement them.

I can feel the Possum moving like crazy, every day. It’s amazing.

Joey is completely crazy about Annie’s Buttery Rich Crackers: we had one box, we are out, and he is desperate for more. He will point to a box of graham crackers/saltines/lasagna noodles and ask for a cracker, then look at whatever you give him in disgust, point again, and give you a chance to pull a good cracker out of that box. I hope we can find more of them when we go grocery shopping this week. . . .

My father was out of town for most of last week, getting into town late Sunday night. When he and Joey were reunited yesterday morning, Joey clung to his granddad and screamed with joy.

Joey’s been eating like crazy and growing—his pants are too short, and his face is changing. I keep thinking that I’ve taken an odd picture of him but really, it’s just that I’m not used to the new look of him yet.

Insufficient

My milk is drying up.

 

I knew this was a possibility, now that I’m four months pregnant, but it’s still discouraging. Kellymom suggests that I won’t dry up completely, and for now Joey seems willing to persist—he is in fact doing a lot of kneading and headbutting, trying to get every drop of milk when he nurses. He’s trying to nurse constantly; I am not willing to nurse much more than once every two hours, because WOW the pain, so we’re having some tantrums. I’ve started to flinch when he reaches toward me, because he keeps hitting me in the face. When that happens, I hold his hand and explain that it’s not okay, and if he persists I will put him down . . . and he will scream. Occasionally he’ll give up on hitting and start headbutting my nose. It’s not ideal.

 

That sounds a bit grim, but we’re really doing pretty well. There are good times every day, and I’m drinking more water and eating oatmeal, which has helped a little with the supply—but I’m also giving clear milk sometimes, so it’s really the pregnancy causing the change, and there’s nothing I can do about that. Dry nursing is painful, but beyond that, it is eerily like that feeling you get when you root around in your belly button too long: you get a clear signal from your body to knock it off. The pregnancy is leaving me awfully tired; it turns out that parenting while pregnant is much less restful than just being pregnant and sleeping fifteen hours a day, so I haven’t really gotten a second-trimester energy bump. Bummer. It’s definitely led to my blogging less, since I’m just tired all the time. In the meantime, Joey is moving steadily toward toddlerhood, breaking things and shrieking in protest when we clean up after him.

 

I think it’s going to be a great Christmas. I’ll post again this weekend, and for sure I want to share some pictures of my adorable tyrant.

A New Horizon; A Fresh Start

I tend not to swear on the blog, but there’s no other way to put it: I feel like a grade-A asshole.

I emailed Ruth—mostly chatty stuff about our Thanksgiving, asking about theirs—but did ask her what’s been happening (in a friendly, casual sort of way). And she told me. I’m a little unsure of how much to share on the blog, but they are not matched; they were offered a really wonderful match, but felt as though they couldn’t accept, and have in fact removed themselves from the pool for a time. They’ve been having physical, parental, and emotional troubles, and it looks like things are on the mend—but they aren’t ready to add a newborn to the mix just now. Boy, did I have ahold of the wrong end of the stick.

After I got her email, which really was just a frank list of things that have gotten in the way of contact for the last several months, I contacted her on Facebook chat, and we had a pretty good conversation. I mentioned that I’d wondered whether they might have been matched, and she said that no, she’d let us know right away if they were matched.

So I told her about the Possum.

She said that she was happy for me, and asked how I was feeling. Amazing. The whole series of events has left me feeling like a jerk, but also feeling really hopeful about the future; Ruth was so frank and open about what’s been happening that I was caught off guard. She seemed relieved that I wasn’t upset—she definitely told me some things that I imagine adoptive parents don’t relish telling birth parents—but instead I suddenly understood why she’s been more and more unavailable, and I felt lousy about assuming the worst. She said that they had been planning to visit in May, which is probably not going to work now; I had no idea. She wants to talk more often, and I think that we will, when she can. I told her that they should tell Cricket about my pregnancy when they think it best, and she thinks that this is a bit soon. I agree. But she did say that they’ll probably explain when I start to show, which isn’t something I’d thought about (currently, I am wearing this dopey, baggy disguise when I’m in public or there’s a camera about).

I guess I can talk about the parental part here: Ruth and Nora are finding Cricket harder and harder to deal with as he gets more capable and intelligent. I haven’t seen him in several months, but it has seemed for quite some time—more and more over the last two years or so—that his moms have just not seemed like a great temperamental match for Cricket. I know that happens in biological families too, but it’s hard not to wonder what it would be like here. Joey has a much different personality, a more easygoing and adaptable self—but Cricket’s temperament seems a lot like mine, and I might have found him easier to work with than his moms have so far. And of course toddlerhood is not destiny; as he gets a bit older, he and Ruth may find each other more comfortable. But it’s hard for everyone right now.

The five of us—Ruth, Cricket, me, the Mister, and Joey—talked by Skype a day or so after that Facebook chat. Cricket showed us his toys and told us that he loves us; we showed him some of Joey’s toys and told him that we love him.

My Own Bump

Just over a week ago, my mother decided to start telling people that I’m pregnant. I am, okay, certainly past the twelve-week mark now, and she was mystified to discover that I was enraged. Even now, I’m not sure that she knows why I was so angry. No, I know that she doesn’t understand; but we’ve moved past it, and I’m unlikely to explain and thereby get mad all over again.

In some ways it is my own fault—she told me that she had told her stepsister, a woman I haven’t spoken with in years, and since she seemed apologetic, I told her that it was okay—it’s not like I will ever see this woman. But she apparently took this to mean, “Please, Mrs. B, tell everyone you can reach—what exciting gossip! And tell people Susie sees on a regular basis: Why would she want to handle that herself?” And she told people in a way that made it clear that she was just gossiping, and I was incredibly mad, told her to knock it off, and contacted the people she had told to ask them to please not spread the news yet because we aren’t and my mother just had a wild hair up her hinder and no sense of the appropriate. (Okay, I just thought that last part.) I am not ready to talk to people about the pregnancy, which is unfortunate, because I look pregnant and a half. Some of my reaction is I think fair—my mother cannot for the life of her understand what “Not your place” or “Not your business” might mean, and when that runs up against my private life, it makes me crazy. But there’s another piece to my anger that seems blog relevant.

The last time I was pregnant here, my family mostly pretended that I wasn’t pregnant until I lost my son. I was right here, in this house, and being back here and pregnant is more emotionally complicated than I had expected. I’m not talking about the pregnancy—I’m mostly dismayed about already having a bump. I’m glad about the little Possum, no question; I talk to him and take my vitamins and look forward to meeting him. But it’s all intensely private for me, which makes my mom’s chatty spree feel like “You’ll never guess what happened in Susie’s vagina!!!” Whoa, mom. Not cool.

I’ve got to find a way to think differently about the pregnancy, because I know from experience that a pregnancy isn’t entirely private—even when I was pregnant with Cricket and feeling weirdly invisible here, strangers at grocery stores would smile and hold doors for me. People can tell—if not now, then soon. (I am wearing baggy tops most of the time, but if I wear something that fits, voici la bump.) And they don’t think of the belly as a secret vagina thing (reasonable!), and so won’t pretend that they can’t see it. I will be asked rude questions; my mother will, uninvited, touch my stomach. Unless I flip my lid, that will happen a lot.

Yeouch

Joey wants to play outside all the time now. It’s in the low 70s most days, and the sun isn’t so intense as it was even a month ago, so his timing isn’t bad—but he’s looking for excitement, which is a little scary sometimes. He wants to jump into the pool (we compromise with some wading on the steps); he wants to jam everything he can reach into his mouth (I let him eat some grass); he wants to walk around and chirp and grasp at things (and we do). It seems like he does something new every day—I’ve started writing them down, and so far, at least one per day. He’s sort of talking (echoing us appropriately, or saying independently things like “Ah duh! [all done]” or “Addy! [while reaching for his daddy].”)His sleep is still less than ideal, with at least one wakeup between 2 and 4 a.m., but so much is happening in his brain that I suppose it’s to be expected. That is my mantra these days, so please forgive me if I have said it before.

 

Nursing is getting harder. Joey bit me quite hard the other day, hard enough that I immediately shouted and put two fingers against his cheek, pushing him away—that part I’m almost proud of, although of course it’s not the best way to handle that, but my instinct was gentle, rather than the shove or jerk I might have expected of myself. Joey burst into tears, and Mr. Book held him while I assured him that I love him and wasn’t mad at him. I did, however, refuse to nurse him for the next couple of hours, which outraged the child. I’ve been extra tender since then, and I’ve started to have a nursing-while-pregnant problem that I’ve heard about; when my milk lets down, I am abruptly nauseated. Nursing hurts enough that I bite my hand while the snerks busies himself. I can do this for a very long time, I know that—but not if the biting keeps up. That pain was amazing.

Don’t Ask, . . .

I’m trying to decide when to tell Ruth and Nora about the pregnancy. I told them about halfway through the pregnancy when I was expecting Pete, and boy, was that an unpleasant experience. There is a part of me that wants to wait until I absolutely have to tell them (Ruth: We’re coming for a visit next month. Susie: Ah—I should tell you that we have another child now.), but I know that’s a Bad Birthmother thing to do. And it wouldn’t be fair to Cricket. On the other hand, Ruth has told me that they don’t tell him about things ahead of time: he doesn’t know about visits until we’re on our way; he didn’t hear about our move until we were already settled in California. If they’re keeping that up, maybe I will really consider just sending them a birth announcement and leaving it at that. (Update: Mr. Book has vetoed this entirely mature and reasonable idea.)

I believe that, if all goes well with this little critter, we will have our baby before Ruth and Nora adopt their second child. I’m pretty sure that they will be angry about that—and they were angry about the last pregnancy. When I told them about Pete, they first checked with Mr. Book to see whether I was lying, then sent me an email announcing that they could not congratulate me, and then opted not to have another visit that year. I know that it could be worse, but you’ll understand me if I say that I’m not eager to find out exactly how much worse. Of course, that will lead me to be weird and hide things—I am going to have either to be incredibly discreet on Facebook or crank up my privacy settings where they are concerned. Shoot, maybe I’ll just migrate entirely to Google+. I am not in many of the pictures I send to them, but soon I will be in none—and if they want to Skype, I’m going to stand awkwardly behind things or something. The more I write about this, the more it sounds like something out of I Love Lucy—only depressing.

There’s a part of me that thinks I already look pregnant. I know that that’s bananas—it is Too Early for that—but I’m a little paranoid. A week before I found out that I was pregnant, Mr. Book reminds me, I told him that it felt like my insides were shifting around. I suppose it’s theoretically possible that my body is at this point just super primed to grow babies, but that’s an odd thought. I want my sickness and weird food cravings and aversions (you should have seen me in Trader Joe’s, staring fixedly at a jar of garlic-stuffed green olives and talking myself out of them) to be a promise that this is a healthy pregnancy, but of course there’s no such thing. Mr. Book hasn’t told his mother yet—something we had a bit of an argument about—because he wants to tell her that there’s another grandchild coming and I don’t want her to know if I miscarry. It’s none of her business if I miscarry, I say, and Mr. Book says that a grandchild is her business. And we just go around and around like that. He wants support, and I don’t want whatever black-hole, bizzaro universe version of support she would direct toward me in the event of a pregnancy loss. He feels that I am being irrational, and I agree and don’t care. I really want only to tell the people I told: my two sisters, my parents, and this blog. Now I have to accept that the Dowager Book is going to know (which I can grit my teeth and do, but urgh)—and so I am shifting all of my don’t tell energy to Ruth and Nora. Thank goodness Joey is too little to spill the beans.

I’ve got some time to decide on a strategy, at least. But this beats morning sickness and exhaustion both as my least favorite pregnancy thing.