Oh Good, Parasites

Our cat has fleas! Noooo!!

This is the first time I’ve had to deal with fleas—Aztec is an indoor cat, but the Mr. has been letting him out onto our balcony for fresh air and sunshine. No longer! Apparently fleas are a huge problem in Stumptown. I broke the news to the Mr. when he got home, and we got to give the little guy a bath. Mr. Book had never washed a cat before, so we had a few near escapes, but he got thoroughly soaped up and most of the fleas are dead. Now we’re just waiting on the terrifying pesticides to arrive from amazon.com so that we can smear them on his shoulder blades. In the meantime, he’s not allowed in the bedroom, so he pounds on the door and howls at night.

Thanks to everyone who commented yesterday: it’s pretty unlikely that I’ll say anything, as Amanda voiced my fears pretty clearly. Ruth and Nora could see that we were much warmer than they were, but were sure that we were wrong about the temperature/how we were feeling—since Cricket’s not in real danger, it doesn’t seem work bringing up to Ruth. I was talking with my therapist this week about how I am 100 percent certain that Ruth will end up giving us unsolicited parenting advice. She means well, but is sure that she has more and better information than we do most of the time. She has asked if I have parenting advice once or twice, and I’ve tried to be useful without being pushy (e.g., suggesting a book that she ended up finding helpful); I really dread appearing pushy. Of course, if she were my sister, I’d say something. (shrugs) She had some concerns while I was pregnant and shared them with me (that I wasn’t showing enough, that I was having a diet coke), so I assume it will be similar when I’ve got a babe in arms. They will probably cluck over how poor futurekid must be just freezing! 😉

Hot

There’s one piece of unsolicited parenting advice I want very much to give Ruth and Nora, and can’t, so after grousing about it privately I’m opting to write it here. I’d like to start off with the disclaimer that they are being conscientious and loving; I just think they’re goofing up, a bit.

When we visited, it was quite warm—a bright and lovely day. I had worn long sleeves and ended up regretting it—Mr. Book had ¾ sleeves, and we both ended up sweating a bit. Ruth and Nora were cold all day; I was baffled to see Ruth add a wool sweater to her outfit early in the afternoon. When we went to a park, they insisted that we borrow jackets just in case, and I think they were genuinely surprised that we ended up not choosing to wear them. Ruth had mentioned that Cricket has been having a rash problem recently. When they helped him get undressed for his bath, I saw that he was wearing three layers: two long-sleeved onesies and a jacket. Well, that kind of overdressing can easily create and prolong rash problems—I suspected it on my own, then talked to my mom, who’s a primary health care provider. Cricket was flushed all day, and I suspect that his parents’ overdressing is at least one cause of his rash problem. But I can’t say anything. It’s one thing to not feel free to say “Gosh, those lime green and navy thermal pants are shockingly ugly, why ever did you buy them?”—that would just be mean, and I don’t actually want to ask that question, although I do wonder. But the overdressing is really going to bug me. (Throughout the day, he kept signing <hot>. Ruth says that it’s hard to know why, as he seems to know what “hot” means–uses it to indicate the heater, etc.–but then signs it sometimes for no reason that she can see.) Oh, well, in a year or two he’ll be able to complain fluently and pull off jackets himself, so the problem will self-correct.

Suspense!

The other day, period still MIA, I ended up going to the adoption agency website and picking out what my top three picks would be if I had to place again today. I spent a couple of hours going through profiles and narrowing it down. Why in God’s name did I do this? I am absolutely never placing another kid. It felt like I was on some kind of weird autopilot: “Well, this is what happened last time, so. . . .” I chose pretty carefully when I picked out Cricket’s parents, but my criteria were slightly different this time—for example, I found myself strongly biased in favor of parents who had already adopted a child. NOT THAT THIS WILL BE RELEVANT.

Later that night, I told Mr. Book what I’d done (I so want to write “what had happened”; I don’t think I can really convey how much I didn’t feel like I had agency during that weird couple of hours, reading pleas and sifting through couples). I started an awkward “So, I mean, theoretically I could be pregnant” conversation. First he told me that he’s sure that I’m not pregnant. Then he said “No matter what happens, we’re not giving another one up. Even if we end up having quintuplets, we’re keeping all five.” I said “I don’t know; if there’s five, maybe we should give up two”—mostly joking, but also a little horrified at the idea of trying to breastfeed five babies—and he said “Nope, that’s not going to happen. Any kids we have, we keep.” I was both relieved that he’s determined to raise and love any even accidental futurekids and a little worried that he’s confident that I’m not pregnant now—that his comfort is based on that certainty. I ask why he’s so sure that I’m not pregnant, and he points out that I’m on birth control. I tell him that I sometimes take pills late, and that my sister got pregnant on birth control. He says that Tammy is a flake.

I tend to worry, and I tend to nag. These are not excellent qualities, and Mr. Book works around them with more graciousness than I really expected before we built this thing between us. But there are downsides to his approach; if we are running late, I worry, and I nag him, and he doesn’t take it seriously—and then we are late. Now I’m late, and I am worry, and I keep bugging him—and he’s completely unworried, because I would be doing almost exactly the same thing if it was one day before my period and I was cramping and not tired/sick/heartburny. I am the girl who cried wolf. There’s a pretty obvious solution, of course. But now I’m worried about what happens after that.

Adoption-Free Blardy Blah

No adoption today—but I want to give a little context to my adoption posts, so I’m cheating a bit. 😉

I’m not doing that well right now. I’m not trawling for sympathy, I just want to explain. I spend most of my days doing nothing at all—I barely get dressed. I am brushing my teeth and taking my medication, but that’s more or less where it stops. I don’t have any editing work right now—publishing isn’t going so well this year, I am told by my contacts—and while I’ve applied for jobs in town (cashier or barista type stuff), the economy here is pretty bad, and I’m not finding anything.

For awhile, I think I was doing better, but I’m not now. It’s not as bad as it has been in the best—I’m not in any danger—but I’m not doing well, and I don’t really know what’s going to change that. I feel like I can force myself to be human and sociable for a few hours a week, but that’s it. I went to the grocery store the other day and just wanted to cry when I got home; I felt drained. I’ve decided to believe that I have mono.

Funnily enough, the cat couldn’t be more delighted that I’m doing poorly. He gets to sit on me whenever he wants, and I’m always around and not making noises.

Bits

There’s a week every month when I could theoretically be pregnant, and it’s never that likely. The way that I handle that uncertainty keeps evolving, and I still haven’t found the best way. It’s tricky for me. If I act as though I am pregnant, I’m first nervous and then eventually disappointed—and, more prosaically, I miss out on things that I enjoy. If I instead go ahead and have a cup of coffee or a beer, I then brood about possibly mutating futurekid. I feel as though when I am pregnant, I have to do everything perfectly, to prove that I have a right to be a mother—having a couple of beers before I realize that I’m pregnant isn’t part of that picture. My mother drank through all four of her pregnancies—my therapist says that her doctor ordered her to have a beer every night, to prevent preterm labor—but as a birthmother, I want to be above reproach. There is a stereotype that birthmothers drink while pregnant; I would rather say “I absolutely did not drink while pregnant” than “I didn’t drink at all once I knew that I was pregnant, but.” I worry that I will be pregnant, drink coffee, and miscarry.

This isn’t a particularly interesting post. But one week a month is too much time to spend on this, and I need to find a way to redirect my brain. In a couple of months I’ll be quitting any kind of birth control, and then my monthly concern will be stronger—and I’ll definitely skip the girl beer and the coffee.

Mr. Book and I were talking after the visit about parenting choices we plan to make; everything that we dislike about Ruth and Nora’s parenting means a chance for them to disapprove of our different choices. They will probably hate futurekid’s clothes. They are scheduling Cricket for quite a number of classes and activities—we’re more of the “no preschool, and no kindergarten until six” school of thought. We’re very into the idea of letting kids goof off and just be kids for awhile, albeit while getting some time to socialize and learning things at home; they like having a lot of skills training very early, and mostly structured time. They disapproved of some things that I did during the pregnancy (I’m thinking mostly of Diet Coke), and that was clear, so I assume that we’ll hear about any perceived problems with our parenting. (In a loving, intended to be constructive way, I should add. Intentions are good.)

For the last week or so, I’ve been having vivid and incredibly boring dreams. I’ve dreamed about scheduling errors, about getting slightly confusing directions from people and verifying them with Google Maps, and about rearranging furniture. I’m not sure at all why I’m remembering—and I wonder what, if anything, they mean.

Two Peas

One of the stranger things about our visit last week was watching Ruth watch my husband and Cricket together. It feels like, for Ruth and Nora, there are a few things about Mr. Book that are hard: Cricket looks very like him; my husband is the only father, if you care about that sort of thing; I actually named Cricket after his birthdad, although of course they changed his name; and finally, Cricket seems very drawn to his birthdad. On Friday, Cricket ran to him over and over again—he would run to my husband and throw his arms around him. He did not do this with me. When we went out, he was holding Mr. Book’s hand and Nora’s for awhile, and he kept looking up at the Mr. with this look of unbelievable joy. I don’t by any means think that “every child needs a mother and a father,” or any such heterosexist thing, but it already seems as though my husband has something to offer Cricket that no one else can.

Mr. Book and I talked about this stuff on our walk that day—our visit intermission—and he seemed sort of surprised, but mentioned that he had noticed that Ruth seemed slightly disapproving as she watched him play with Cricket. Some of that might be that he’s playing with Cricket a bit more boisterously than they do; their favorite game on Friday involved tossing small plush toys into the air simultaneously and then laughing and laughing. Cricket is not allowed to throw things—he’s also not allowed to mash his food or chew his board books—Ruth is working hard to keep him well-mannered and thoughtful, albeit with a slightly different sense of priorities than we might. We’re more likely to allow noisy or messy experimentation. But I do think part of the odd look in her eye was about possibly seeing present and future Cricket sitting side by side on her living room floor, and not being part of that.

Ruth and Nora talk to us sometimes about what Cricket might have gotten from his biological parents, but they almost always compare him to me. It seems like the less obvious choice; he does look like both of us, but more like the Mr. He has one expression that is a copy of one of mine (my husband calls it the “What you do?!” look—it is deep skepticism and mild disapproval, and we got to see it on the visit), but his smile is my husband’s. He has moments of my shyness and uncertainty, but spends most of his time being outgoing and charming in the way that my husband is. He has my husband’s eyes and his sweaty feet. Ruth and Nora look more to me for an example because they know me better, and because we have baby pictures of me but not the Mr., but Cricket seems to me so like his biopop.

I don’t think of biology as a magical or overwhelming thing—I think Cricket will have many things in common with Ruth and Nora, that he’ll pick things up from them, follow their lead. But I’m more and more starting to think that I’ll see Mr. Book in Cricket forever, which I (perhaps stupidly) hadn’t expected as a pregnant lady.

The First of Several

The visit went pretty well. Best news first, the car went over tremendously with the kid. I tore the wrapping paper for him, but he wasn’t really able to figure out what needed to happen next, so he looked up at me and signed <help> <please>. I was charmed. “Of course, Cricket, I’d love to help you get this open!” When I had the car clear of its packaging, I handed it to Cricket—he immediately zoomed it along the floor, and thereafter alternated carrying it around and pushing it across the rug. Ruth said that it was a timely pick, that he’s been trying to push all his toys around recently. So, for the record, his first boyish toy came from us. From me, really. Mr. Book hadn’t even seen it; I tried to talk to him about it ahead of time, but he seemed to find that painful and I desisted. In terms of languages of love, I am the only one of the four of us who has this need to express love with gifts.

I didn’t play with him much; I was more reserved than I had hoped to be. At one point, late in the visit, it was suggested that one of us might read to him. My husband said that I should do it, and I actually panicked. I was trying to hide it behind a jokey sort of façade, but failed pretty completely. Nora read to him. I had three pieces of direct contact with him: I pretended to eat a toy horse for his amusement in the car; he sat in my lap for a bit during dinner; and when he was in the bath, I horsed around with him a bit. I know it looks bad, and I know that Ruth and Nora noticed.

He’s walking now, that funny, shuffling toddler walk; he’s signing clearly, although his signs are somewhat self-created. We went to a park, and there were some college students tossing a football around—Cricket was fascinated, and wanted badly to play. Nora tells me that he’ll be starting soccer this summer. He’s feeding himself expertly, although solely with his hands; I don’t know why, but I had subconsciously expected him to be using a utensil sometimes. Ruth tells me that he’s had a couple of tantrums, so true toddlerhood can’t be far away. While we were still at their house, I (quietly) made my husband promise that we’d never have to come back.

We’ve got two more visits vaguely scheduled: they’ll come here in a month or two, then we’ll go there a month or two later. But right now I am pretending that we won’t have any more visits. In some ways, I hate them. I should be writing a post-visit email to Ruth, being chatting and asking her for a date in April or May, but I’m not. I haven’t been feeling fantastic—nothing interesting, just acid reflux and nausea on and on and on—and am using that as an excuse, but it ain’t a great one. Always before, I have emailed her within 24 hours after a visit.

I imagine I’ll be talking about the visit all week. It’s on my mind. I wish that we’d gotten some pictures, but Ruth and Nora have a camera; we don’t. They brought it with us when we went out, but I don’t think they actually took any pictures, and I didn’t feel comfortable saying “Hey, we haven’t seen him in months, he’s walking and different and I’d love to have pictures of this.” I hate having to ask for things.