Monday, November 30, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The goals went like this. I'm the sort of person who, when faced with a large, difficult, or unpleasant task, likes to break it into smaller steps or achievable pieces. So, being surrounded by friends and family who support breastfeeding but have nothing against formula either, I decided my goal would be to breastfeed while in the hospital and see how that went. If it went well, I'd aim for two weeks. If THAT went well, I'd aim for six weeks. Then for three months, then for six months, which was so unimaginably far away I didn't think past that. That way if I was having trouble in the first week, I could say, "I only have to make it to two weeks, then I can stop." And of course most trouble clears up by then, and I can go on. This is a way I've always incentivized myself -- "You just have to get through the first 100 words, then you can stop," on college papers. Of course once I've got the 100 words I want to keep going and get to my 500-word check point. And so on. It works well because it keeps me wanting to get to the next achievable goal, but when I do decide to stop I don't have to feel guilty, since I stopped at a goal.
I bring up the goals because this was among the many, many, many things that the lactation consultant at the hospital told me I was doing really, really, really wrong. Of this entire breastfeeding experience, the top 3 worst things would be:
3. Plugged Ducts
2. Cluster Feedings (Growth Spurts)
1. The Lactation Consultant at the Hospital
She asked if I was planning to breastfeed and how long, and I cheerfully told her about my laddered goals system. Oh, no, she insisted, shaking her head gravely. That won't work. You can only breastfeed if you COMMIT to it. There are going to be so many challenges and people trying to make you stop -- if you want to breastfeed until he's six months, you have to decide RIGHT NOW that you're going to DO IT for six months, no matter what, and you have to make your husband get on board.
I was like, "Um, no, I think I'll stick with my system, thanks."
She warned me darkly that that system doomed me to failure because I wasn't COMMITTING. (Because obviously, ALL HUMAN PSYCHES ARE EXACTLY THE SAME.) We moved on to more questions, where she gave me instructions that contradicted my doctor's about medications (and I curtly informed her that she was not a doctor and was not competent to issue instructions relating to my medical care). Then I got the baby and nursed, and she totally objected to his nursing position: Lying flat on his back, with his head turned 90 degrees. "BELLY TO BELLY!" she barked at me, repeatedly. But when turned belly-to-belly, Mini McGee flatly refused to nurse and wriggled until he got to be flat again. He still mostly prefers this flat-back pose, although he's more relaxed now and doesn't lie there stiff as a board.
So having achieved all my breastfeeding goals, I thought it was a good time to reflect. I posted about breastfeeding before, but now I have stuff to add.
My experience: I generally had a very easy time of it. Mini McGee is a good latcher, I have compliant boobs (they keep up with demand, and they aren't real picky about missed feedings so I can usually get away without pumping), and I can't really complain. A few plugged ducts here and there, but nothing dire. We began formula supplementing 1 bottle a day in week 2 because I needed more than 2 hours of sleep at a time; he's happy to eat either. Now that he sleeps, some days he gets formula, some days he doesn't, just depending on if I'm around all day or not. I didn't really have any problems with pumping, but I don't like doing it, so I mostly don't.
Education: Breastfeeding education is awful! It was so. much. information, and it was all apparently designed to scare the bejeezus out of me ... the 8 billion things that can go wrong. The 62 different ways to time feedings. At age 2 weeks 1 day and 6 hours, baby needs this much milk, but 4 hours later it's different. The 502 things you can't eat, look at, or sneeze in the vicinity of. Don't introduce bottles until week X but before week Y, because too early and he'll get nipple confusion, but too late and he'll reject the change. Good. Lord. (And most of it backed up with claims that drastically overstate the medical literature.)
Here's what I needed: A 1-page summary with pictures of the common holds and the baby's latch. Information on caring for the equipment. Information on a couple common problems (plugged ducts, mastitis, thrush) and a list of symptoms with when to see YOUR doctor and when to see BABY'S doctor. Where to go for more information. And a reassurance that YOU'LL LEARN EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW FROM THE NURSES IN THE HOSPITAL. (Yeah, not the lactation consultant. The nurses.)
All the educational information assured me breastfeeding was natural and wonderful and easy, then made it seem terrifyingly complex and prone to horrific problems. The same literature also frequently made a big whoop about people who don't support breastfeeding and how persecuted you will feel while breastfeeding, especially in public. I have not yet met one of these people. Even in public.
The Verdict: For me, I think the biggest benefits of breastfeeding was that it was WAY cheaper than formula feeding and that it's frequently more convenient, since I can go out and about without bottle-feeding paraphernalia or having to think ahead. But I would tell anyone thinking about breastfeeding to skim one book (or chapter in the pregnancy book) and then know you'll learn everything else at the hospital, and not worry over it or read too much about the stuff that can go wrong. (If it goes wrong, it goes wrong, and you can't possibly keep straight all the scare literature -- I had to look up plugged ducts when the moment arrived, despite my diligent reading.) I would also say, take it one day at a time, and if it doesn't work out, isn't it great that modern formulas are so nutritious and convenient?
Now that I've achieved the unthinkably-distant goal of six months, I guess I'll keep going. I don't know until when, but that's probably because I'm insufficiently committed and won't succeed at -- oh, wait. Never mind.
(And how weird is it that it's about "succeeding" at breastfeeding ... implying that other options that result in a healthy baby are somehow "failure." Modern competitive parenting is awesome!)
Monday, November 09, 2009
We were not able to wait and get me a shot; it was simply too cold for Mini McGee to be out in the cold that long, particularly as I had no idea if it would be 30 minutes or 90 minutes or 3 hours. (Plus I have to teach later.)
Friday, October 30, 2009
So anyway, the peas. He gets about a tablespoon of rice cereal once a day and he is clearly still looking for more, so we thought we'd introduce some veggies while he's still thinking food is super-fun. (The current baby food orthodoxy is to introduce veggies first after the rice cereal, on the theory they're less sweet and the baby might reject them if he gets used to sweeter fruits first. But a friend of mine who's a pediatrician said they're moving towards recommending MEAT as the first food for exclusively breast-fed babies because so little iron comes through breast milk that exclusively breast-fed babies, especially those whose parents delay the start of solids, can end up iron deficient. Isn't it amazing the human race managed to raise babies for thousands of years before the Baby-Industrial Complex started telling us all how to do it, with new rules every 10 years? Not that I don't obey my Baby-Industrial Complex overlords; I have the requisite quantities of American parenting guilt that forces me to obey the rules that inform me that if I accidentally introduce carrots only TWO days after the peas instead of THREE days after the peas, THE SKY WILL FALL, but I try to keep a healthy skepticism going at the same time.)
Okay, the peas. So we introduce the peas last night, which smell exactly like peas, which for some reason always surprises me about baby food. (The entire ingredient list is pureed peas and water, I don't know what I was expecting.) Mini McGee has had his rice cereal already, and I break out the peas, and it goes something like this:
"Oooooh, the spoon! DIVE BOMB! Wait -- this isn't rice cereal. This is ... weird. (Swallow. Make frog-like old-man face while pondering flavor of peas.) I'm not sure I -- oooooh, the spoon! DIVE BOMB! Wait -- this is peas again! (Swallow. Make a "beer face" that makes him look like an 18-year-old at a frat party TRYING to act like he's had a drink before and likes beer but having the beer face giving him away.) I'm really not sure about these peas, but -- oooooh, the spoon! DIVE BOMB! ACK! PEAS! PEAS! (Beer face.) Push them out! Push them out! Phew. Good work, tongue! Oooooh, the spoon! DIVE BOMB! ACK! STILL PEAS! Push them out! Push them out! I knew this tongue was here for a reason, good thing I can push out those disgusting -- oooooh, the spoon! DIVE BOMB! NOOOO! PEAS! No, wait, okay, I'll swallow this. (Beer face.) It's not rice cereal, but it's not the end of the -- ooooh, the spoon! DIVE BOMB! Sure, I'll have another bite of peas. (Beer face.) I mean, I am starving to death, so if this is what -- oooooh, the spoon! DIVE BOMB! DAMMIT, WOMAN, WHY DO YOU KEEP PUTTING PEAS ON MY SPOON???"
I probably got half a teaspoon of peas into him total, and almost all of it ended up down his front. Of course, when Daddy fed him the remainder of the peas an hour or so later, he's all, "I love peas!" and grinning and drooling happy green drool and not making a single beer face.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
We put the baby to sleep in his own room last night for the first time, in his crib instead of in the "sidecar" bassinet that he's rapidly outgrowing. He also is responding more and more to us rolling over in bed, etc., which wakes him, so it's time for him to have a quieter sleeping space (where he can go to bed at a nice early hour for babies). It was good -- he slept from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m., ate, and then slept again until about 7:30. Mr. McGee looked more rested this morning than he has in weeks. I heard the baby as soon as he woke up in his room -- I was afraid I might not hear him until he was wailing, but I heard him as soon as he started sleepy-hungry muttering. He went right back to sleep and woke up this morning cheerful and chatting with himself in his crib, and grinned at me when I came in to get him.
So it was good. But it was so sad! I know this is just the first in a long, long line of bittersweet parenting moments, but it was still sad. I kept asking Mr. McGee if I should go get the baby and bring him in, and Mr. McGee kept reassuring me he was fine. I checked on him about six times in the night (which is why I'm not quite so rested as everyone else), which for a worrywart like me is a low number.
I know I'll be glad he's in his own room because I am an extremely light sleeper and with him right next to me, his every wiggle and snorfle wakes me up and I end up exhausted. And now that he's only nursing once in the night most nights, it's easier to put him in the nursery than it would have been when he was up every two hours. But right now I'm sad that my baby doesn't need me quite as much as he did yesterday, and isn't quite as little as he was yesterday.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
"Aslan? Is that you?"
"If the lion is Aslan, what does that make the elephant and the monkey?"
"Um ... Ganesha and Hanuman? That's all I got for elephant and monkey Gods ... ."
"Dude ... ."
Monday, August 03, 2009
For some reason it didn't click for me that feeding a baby every 90 minutes to 3 hours meant that it would eat up hours and hours of my day. I got that I had to do it all the time, just not that every time would take so long! I worked it out and on an average day I spend 7 to 8 hours doing nothing but feeding and burping the baby. (THIS is what they should be telling teenagers in pregnancy-prevention programs!)
None of the books I read adequately explained "cluster feeding," and I'm irate about this, since it is possibly THE WORST THING I'VE EVER GONE THROUGH IN MY LIFE. For the uninitiated, cluster feeding is when the baby is about to have a growth spurt and decides to up your supply of breastmilk by feeding CONSTANTLY for 24 to 48 hours and it's AWFUL. Interrupting your sleep/life every 3 hours for 1 hour (so that's 2 hours you get to sleep or do something like dishes) is one thing; interrupting it every freaking hour for twenty to thirty minutes makes you a zombie from lack of sleep, and a VERY ANGRY ZOMBIE from lack of freedom to follow a thought from one end to the other. This being my first child, I'm accustomed to being able to concentrate on things for a couple hours if necessary (husbandly interruptions notwithstanding), so I was shocked by how short-tempered it makes me to never have the freedom to concentrate. It's not so bad during his (the baby's, not my husband's) normal schedule, now that I know my concentration comes in 2-hour blocks or shorter, but during cluster feeding I become the crankiest person on the planet because I don't ever get to THINK.
Another thing that nobody told me is that breastfeeding is BORING. You can only stare into a baby's eyes so many hours a day. (Bottlefeeding is equally boring and has the disadvantage of taking two hands so you can't read a book, but bottlefeeding you can hand off to the non-dairy parent.) I've been watching a ton of Hulu, so that I can have an interesting show ready on demand, and I've been reading a lot, but the reading is limited to books I can hold and read one-handed, which means basically mass-market paperbacks, ideally with cracked spines so I can hold them open easily with one hand, but not read so many times that the pages are too soft to turn with just a thumb. It also helps if I don't lose the thread of the plot reading it in short bites and constantly being interrupted; I haven't gone through books so slowly in YEARS.
I also wasn't particularly prepared for how HEAVY a baby is when you're trying to hold him up to eat. This is fine at home with my Boppy, but when out running errands or visiting people whose couches have inadequate pillows, I might was well just have someone kick me in the spine and throw my back out all at once instead of slowly by degrees.
Not that it's all cranky-making. It is terribly convenient to carry less stuff in the diaper bag and have the baby's food supply with me at all times while out and about. I'm also a pretty big fan of the 500 extra calories a day that *I* get to eat to be a functioning dairy animal. And formula is NOT CHEAP.
I'd like to say that it's worth all the missed sleep when he smiles his milky smile at me, but the truth is he's pretty indiscriminate about handing out toothless grins, and he usually only grins when eating when he's about to spit up all over me. Oh well; it's still cute!
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
and then BURST into tears and could not be consoled until I got rid of the towel.
Now my hair looks funny. And now I know better than to wear a nasty evil towel on my head!
Monday, July 20, 2009
I ask that you keep District issues to that blog; this blog is really my personal blog full of cat blogging and chronicling my son's every fart. :)
Monday, July 13, 2009
"Phew, his farts smell like the sulphurous bowels of hell!" I complained to my sister.
"Oh, he's just getting out the last of the Satan," she replied.
Thursday, July 09, 2009
We got an Arms Reach Co-Sleeper, which is a bassinet where one side folds down and it attaches to an adult bed (still leaving about a 4" high barrier between the baby and the adult bed). This allows the benefits of co-sleeping -- having the baby handy for nursing, being able to watch and touch the baby all night, etc. -- without the terrible risks of having a baby in an adult bed. It was particularly helpful while recovering from the C-section so I didn't have to get out of bed to get him. We got the mini (in blue gingham).
If you get an Arms Reach, the Mighty Bright book light perfectly fits on the bar and makes a very nice nightlight for checking on the baby or nursing without waking up the non-dairy parent. I think this would be my new trick for any bassinet, finding a book light that clips onto it!
I had one of these color-changing light balls that I picked up at Cub Foods for $5 a while back, because I'm weirdly fixated on lights that change color. This thing turns out to be BABY CRACK. He will stare at it for minutes on end. I'm getting another to use as a nightlight in his room.
One of the neatest things I got is a Milkband (front page cycles through pictures, one of which has a nursing woman in case nursing boob is disallowed for your workplace surfing). This is a bracelet of the "live strong" type, with two little sliders and a series of numbers so that you can mark the last time you nursed, and on the outside it says "Left" and the inside it says "Right" and you flip it inside out so you know which side you last started on, instead of mucking around with paperclips on your bra or whatever. The "left" is lowered (debossed into the bracelet) and the "right" is raised, so you can even tell in the dark. This was perhaps the coolest $6 I spent, since the first few weeks I was waaaaaaay too tired to remember when I last nursed (let alone on which side), but writing it down after the first pediatrician visit just seemed tedious. (Also, Milkbands had a computer hiccup so my order went out late ... so they sent me five of them instead of one!)
Friday, June 26, 2009
I have been all through the laundry area like four times now trying to figure out where the other two went.
Apparently my washer is like a death cage match for lap sheets.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
EDIT: Oh, look at that, my blog says it's Thursday. Who knew?
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Immediate return texts:
Aunt McGee: Aww. A clear attempt at 'Aunt McGee'
Grandpa: Cool! I think he was trying to say "grandpa."
Grandma: Short for grandma of course
Phone call from husband: I think he was saying my name.
They're all wrong. Obviously he was working towards "Mama."
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Then last night he slept between feedings instead of fussing and spaced his feedings about 3 hours (instead of ONE hour, which has been the story of the past few days and I thought I was going to actually die). I got almost six hours of sleep, in two-hour chunks, so I feel like people again. Tired people, but people.
I know this doesn't mean it'll all be sunshine and roses (as likely as not, tonight he'll be up all night and eating constantly), but at least I can see a light at the end of the tunnel when I'll no longer be a zombie. (A zombie that says things that endlessly entertain my husband, like, "Stop! I can't think and talk at the same time!" and a zombie that freezes in panic when asked an open-ended question like "What do you want for dinner?" because that's too many choices for my tiny zombie brain.)
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
My mother suggested that baby arms should come as an aftermarket add-on available after six weeks, because all they do until then is flail and get in the way. This sounds about right. Himself likes to get his fists up in his face when he's excited or mad or wound up, which is pretty much every time he's about to eat, and then he gets mad that he can't get the bottle or breast into his mouth because THERE ARE FISTS IN THE WAY, so he parks his fists more firmly in front of his mouth and gets madder.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Looked at my incision with a mirror. Kind-of wish I hadn't, though I'm sure it'll look better as it heals more. Having been awake for a grand total of two hours, I think I need to go nap now.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Baby has lots of hair and is fairly chubby right off; he has all the nice newborn characteristics and none of the ones that make them look like coneheads or Winston Churchill. He latched on at his first nursing attempt and while it hasn't been all smooth sailing, he's doing pretty well at it. Sometimes he gets so frantic looking for the food that when he finds it, he doesn't realize he's got it, and keeps looking, getting madder and madder. At 1 a.m. while full of painkillers without having slept much the night before EITHER when he started doing this, I became suddenly worried this parenting gig was going to be waaaaaaay too much for me. But eventually he goes back to sleep and looks adorable and I forget.
I actually went into labor right about when we arrived to the hospital for the C-section, and by the time I went in for the surgery, the contractions were as close as 3 minutes apart! But I only felt them for about an hour before the epidural came on board. I DID NOT like getting the epidural and I DID NOT like the sensation of having the epidural in me, but the C-section itself wasn't so bad. They had him coming out before I realized they'd really started (I could feel him coming out, the pressure as they pushed from the top). Then there was interesting him to watch being checked over while they sewed me up. They were so speedy I was almost done being stitched up when they took him to the nursery.
I'm uncomfortable and tired, but not unbearably so. Baby loves his dad already, and dad is a pro with him, swaddling like an expert, changing diapers, and soothing the baby when he's frustrated. And yes, baby does recognize his Frank Sinatra song when we sing to him.
(And I'm typing this from my hospital bed, because Proctor has wifi! Yay!)
I think this probably isn't very coherent because I'm still fairly drugged, but I seem to be using punctuation semi-correctly so hopefully it's at least readable.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
C-section went off without a hitch and he's learning to latch on pretty well. 7 lbs. 13 oz., 18.5 inches. More later. :)
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Last night I slept long enough to have the first dream I've had (or at least recalled) in a couple weeks, which was my REM-y brain making a mash-up of "Tootsie" and "Mrs. Doubtfire." It was a surprisingly good movie, I have to say, though my brain was having difficulty sorting out whether Robin Williams or Dustin Hoffman was in the starring role.
Waking up from this required blinking at the ceiling for two solid minutes going, "WTF?"
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Flippy is in a frank breech position -- like a diver in the pike position, knees to nose. His butt is settled nice and low in my pelvis.
We went in this morning for Cephalic External Version, which is where they push on the abdomen from the outside, guided by ultrasound, and try to maneuver the baby into going back to head down. Flippy was quite happy to move his head and spine all around as directed by the doctor's pushing, but his butt is locked too firmly down in my pelvis and he just kept rotating on his ass. The doctor couldn't get him popped up, so the CEV was a flop (or at least definitely not a flip).
And, yes, the CEV was freaking painful (though not intolerable), and, yes, I now feel like I have been pummeled from the inside AND outside of my belly. So all I want to do is lie down ... and frantically prepare the house.
We weren't able to participate in our neighborhood garage sale today because we had to go in for the CEV, so I have a giant pile of STUFF I was planning to be rid of today that's, well, not gone. And a bunch of stuff around the house to do that I thought I'd have a couple more weeks to do, plus time recovering when I could sit still and do brainless tasks like sorting through old files.
Instead we're in a big hurry to get ready for a C-section for my ass-backwards son, which will occur earlier than anticipated, and then I'll have a longer and more difficult recovery than I'd hoped.
On the plus side, with enough frantic cleaning and frantic grading (to get all my grades turned in before the surgery), it's possible I can avoid thinking about the surgery until the last possible moment. I do not particularly cope well with sharp pointy objects, and if I were going to make a horror movie specifically to scare ME, it would definitely involve MAJOR ABDOMINAL SURGERY WHILE I AM AWAKE. I honestly think this is one of the most horrifying ideas modern medicine has ever come up with, up there with the brain surgery where they cut your head open while you're awake, poke at things, and ask you to say if anything happens (they do this one all the time on House). I thought the medical establishment would never inflict anything worse on me personally than that eye-puff glaucoma test (*shudder*), BUT I WAS SO WRONG.
My friends are generally of the opinion that I've had such a difficult pregnancy, culminating in him turning breech at the last second, that he will be an absolute angel child. My family is generally of the opinion that Flippy is exerting his contrary streak early and will keep on as he's begun. Given that my husband and I both have contrary streaks a mile wide, I have a sneaking suspicion my family is right.
I have been threatening Flippy that on his birth announcements, instead of "Flippy McGee: born 10 a.m. on date at place," I'm going to change the wording to read, "Flippy McGee: entered the world ass-backwards at 10 a.m. on date at place," but he seems unimpressed.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
The problem with a baby arriving is the cats suddenly have a zillion extra places to sleep -- bassinet, pack 'n' play, changing table, baby laundry basket, etc. Flippy will come home to a room pre-covered in cat hair just for him. I'm spending an awful lot of time chasing cats out of baby sleeping areas, which I kind-of feel bad about, because first of all, they're really perfectly cat-sized and secondly, they're just trying nap! Geez!
This morning I woke up to a strange, repetitive sound, and after I lay there for a few minutes, I realized it was the sound of someone rolling the toilet paper over and over. "Argh," I think, stumbling out of bed and to the bathroom. Indeed, it was not just someone but TWO someones, both furry, who were sitting there TAKING TURNS AND COOPERATING (sign of the Apocalypse #147) to unroll the entire roll. Very patiently and peacefully rolling and rolling and rolling the roll. Great.
This is a new trick. Grey Cat will on occasion take a couple swipes at the roll, generally when he's really bored and has been left alone too long (like if his people get the flu and refuse to get out of bed and play with him), but this was new. Guess I'll be turning all the rolls backwards today.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Sunday, May 03, 2009
I am exhausted, being at 36 weeks and having achieved the point of pregnancy where not only am I carrying around a lot of extra weight, but where I can only sleep for three hours or so before being woken by ninja fetus kicking the heck out of my tiny bladder. So he is sleeping 10 to 14 hours a night and requiring 1 to 2 naps a day. Because there's apparently nothing like rubbing it in that some of us get to sleep and some of us don't.
To be fair, he is doing a ton of yard and housework. But STILL.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
My thoughts are:
Proximity of firing to whistleblowing does not prove retaliatory firing; I can imagine a dozen scenarios in which the firing was justified, and a dozen scenarios in which it was retaliatory. The Board has information we do not have. Whether that information justifies firing McArdle independently of the whistleblowing on financial misconduct -- well, I imagine we'll all get to see it all during the lawsuits that are doubtless on the way.
If in fact McArdle WAS wrongfully terminated as retaliation for bringing up financial misconduct, I am absolutely furious and that is absolutely unacceptable. And regardless of whether McArdle's termination was justified, I certainly expect the Board and administration to act with the same speed and alacrity to fire those engaged in financial misconduct, as that misconduct is proved, as they have acted with in firing McArdle.
If, as the Journal Star is reporting, the District was first informed of the financial shenanigans six months ago and has failed to take action until now -- that in itself is appalling.
Journal Star coverage is here.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Simple turns out to be impossible. So if anyone knows of a widget that doesn't flash, doesn't count down in seconds, and doesn't involve a semi-creepy bouncing fetus (like the one I ended up picking) AND fits in the left column, I'd be much obliged.
Friday, April 24, 2009
*The disappearance of my lap.
*The appalling number of times I get out of bed in the night that does NOT result in someone feeding them (everyone knows the only reason people get out of bed is to feed the cats). The first couple times they patiently follow me to the bathroom, figuring it's a pitstop on the way to the kitchen. By time number four, they're vocally expressing their irateness.
*Rearrangement of furniture.
*My inability to refill their water bowls. I can no longer get down there and back up. I have to pour water from up high and hope my aim is good; they HATE this and refuse to drink out of them for a good ten minutes, just in case the terrifying waterfall comes back.
Things Cats Like about Pregnancy:
*The sheer quantity of things I drop, some of which are food.
*The space heater appended to my belly. I'm super-warm! They love to lean against me.
*My total inability to catch them. They're too fast and I'm too clumsy. There's no rule enforcement regime in this house anymore other than shouting "NO!" And definitely no vet trips.
*Morning sickness. I don't know why, but they seem to find this entertaining. I'm delighted I could provide this service for them throughout the ENTIRE pregnancy instead of cutting off the show after three months.
*Extra people naps.
*Boxes! Baby stuff comes in boxes! Cats love boxes!
Things I Dislike about Cats During Pregnancy:
*The underfoot game. I cannot step over them. I have to wait for them to move.
*Tails. See above. I step on them a lot. I miss Orange Cat, the tail-less.
*The smell of cat food.
Things I Like about Cats During Pregnancy:
*Purring and kicking. When they lean against my belly and purr, Flippy kicks like crazy towards the purring. I don't know if this is, "Get that thing away!" or "Ooooh! Neat sound!" but it amuses me every time.
*No litter for months and months and months. Thanks, toxoplasmosis!
(Yes, I have successfully combined catblogging and mommyblogging. Yay me!)
Friday, April 17, 2009
I would be much happier if we could just lay eggs and be done with it. People keep telling me that sitting on an egg for nine months would be boring, and I agree that 50 years ago it would have been, but now we have the internet. I could sit still for 9 months and surf the web ... you could even telecommute!
When I told my husband I wished I'd laid an egg and how I'd be happy to sit on it for 9 months as long as I had internet access, he pointed out that if humans laid eggs, we would have been putting them in incubators for 50 years now. And I said he was probably right, except now there'd be a cadre of judgy upper-middle-class mothers who would insist that if you didn't sit on your egg 24/7 for nine months, you wouldn't be properly bonded to it and be simultaneously all holier-than-thou and martyr-y about it. And they'd make the rest of us feel like bad mothers and guilt us into feeling like we had to egg-sit whether we wanted to or not. But at least in our modern egalitarian society we could split the egg-sitting duties between parents, and we could be judgy at fathers who didn't do their share of egg-sitting.
Anyway, now every time I walk in the house, I'm trying to decide where we'd put the incubator if humans laid eggs. Would you put the incubator in the living room so everyone could admire the egg and you could keep it company? Or in the nursery so it had quiet and its own space? Or would the incubator go in the kitchen, because, well, that's where one keeps eggs?
*Yes, I realize monotremes lay eggs. But it's a less-amusing post if I'm busy specifying placental mammals and marsupials for all you overspecific people out there.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Also not contributing to my appearance of dignity: The old-man noises I make getting in and out of chairs, and the crumbs all down my front every time I eat.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
So what next? Well, I cannot attend the April 20 school board meeting -- I have Lamaze class. I'm hoping to spend this month and next month meeting people, particularly those of my new counterparts whom I haven't met, talking to people, reading and studying up like crazy, etc. I'm hoping to do most of this quietly and behind-the-scenes, as I've never been 9 months pregnant before or given birth before -- Flippy's due May 29 -- so I'm a little hesitant to make firm plans for May or June. (I'm told fetuses are quite bad at reading calendars and showing up as scheduled.) But I'm going to do everything I can to be ready to hit the ground running July 1. (Edited to be clear: The term begins July 1. This is about my plans until that time.)
If you'd like to talk with me, you can reach me via e-mail (lpetelle AT gmail DOT com), twitter (on the left there), even instant messenger (PetelleLaw on AIM), or by that dinosaur, the telephone.
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Monday, April 06, 2009
The most crucial thing that I would like to focus on, if elected to the school board, is student achievement. That's a broad topic, and an easy thing to say, but it's clearly at the heart of what we all want for the students of District 150, and it's the purpose of the system. It's why we pay the taxes into the system. The District isn't a babysitting service. It isn't a jobs program for administrative cronies. It isn't a feeding trough for consultants. Its purpose is to educate, and District 150 should be a first choice, not a last resort. We have excellent students -- I teach some of them at ICC. We have excellent teachers. These students can achieve if we can only create the environment for them to do it. Some of the policies I would pursue include:
Free teachers to teach, as much as possible. Miring teachers down in red tape or forcing them to spend more time administering discipline than teaching is not a recipe for achievement. Obviously, there are constraints that neither the schools nor the district can change -- NCLB, for example. But within those constraints, the Board should do everything possible to create an environment where teachers can teach with a minimum of interruption and distraction and a maximum of support from principals, administration, and the Board. Micromanaging the classroom, however, is an inappropriate behavior from the School Board; teachers are professionals whose professional competency should be respected.
Create an alternative school for disruptive students. The small number of students who create real disruptions and discipline problems should not be allowed to continue disrupting the learning of those around them. At the same time, expulsion is an unattractive option, as it leaves students who are most in need of education and direction without resources to improve their lives. An alternative school -- a good alternative school, whose focus is to reintegrate the student into the mainstream and provide an excellent education until that's possible -- is necessary. Removing these seriously problematic students from the classroom will allow them to get the focused attention they need, and the other students to focus on their studies in a safe environment conducive to learning. This would be a high-cost initiative, but providing the high schools and junior highs the ability to staff a room five days a week for an "in-school suspension" as a first step is NOT a high-cost initiative, and can be effective intermediate step -- we can create one room for the high schools, one for the junior highs, at a centralized location for the cost of one superintendent salary.
Focus on "the next step" after high school. I've heard a lot of enthusiasm from current and retired teachers about improving both college prep and vocational education opportunities. Specifically, create a comprehensive college prep curriculum open to all high school students (if located at one school -- Richwoods has the most comprehensive current program -- we can cluster APs and college prep classes in the mornings and emulate suburban Chicago models where students are bussed to one school for morning APs and then back to their home school for the afternoon) and work with the unions to create a direct-entry vocational program for the skilled trades. The trades are graying, Peoria has great skilled-labor jobs available, and my plumber makes more than I do. This wouldn't be a throwaway voc-tech program, but a serious academic endeavor preparing students for demanding skilled jobs. (Bonus: Plumbers and electricians can't be outsourced or off-shored.)
However, we need to commit to programs and stick with them -- District 150 has done quite a bit of "we'll try this, no wait, now that," picking up programs and discarding them before they have a chance to work. There is no perfect program, and there are probably a variety of methods that will work to improve student achievement. But none of them will work if they're implemented for a year and then dropped; this creates confusion and waste.
A second set of issues, and ones that the Board is probably able to influence more directly, revolve around governance and communication. In recent years, there hasn't been a great deal of openness and communication from the School Board or the administration about various decisions. Stories change constantly -- "A longer school day is good for students, except when it isn't." I don't think anyone in Peoria is under any illusions about the financial status of the District, and that that constrains the District's options. It's up to the School Board to be open and honest about that, to set priorities, and to say, "Yes, that would be nice, but we can't afford it." It's up to the Board to be a voice for taxpayers and to demand accountability from the administration -- and that includes justification for expenses such as four (now three) superintendants and various consulting fees.
The simplest way to begin with the dire budget situation is to divide expenses into three tiers -- Tier I is everything that directly affects students and their education (instructional time, classroom size); Tier II is anything with indirect effects on students; Tier III is everything else. Tier III gets cut first, end of story. Tier I is cut last, if at all. Any expense on Tier II or III that wants to stick around is going to have to provide massive justification for its existence at the expense of any Tier I core functions.
The picture is less clear and less easy for buildings and maintenance, but a similar scheme can be considered. I also believe the District should consider performance contracting, a state program which updates buildings to increase their energy efficiency with no capital outlay -- the outlay comes from the state and the contractors, who are paid back out of the energy savings over time. The cost-savings take some time to appear (as they're initially paying back to capital outlay), but there is no capital outlay and the program is particularly effective with older, historic buildings that tend to be well-build, well-insulated, and nicely adaptable to modern energy efficiencies.
The closed culture of the Board and Administration has created an atmosphere of distrust. There are issues where the Board and District are legitimately constrained from public discussion -- issues that fall under FERPA, or various personnel matters that are legally private -- but this constant refusal to openly discuss issues that are open has created a situation where Peorians are no longer willing to believe the District when it says, "Trust us."
While one vote on the School Board can't change District policy alone, one person on the Board CAN communicate directly and honestly with constituents, and that would be one of my primary aims.
On a personal note, regardless of the outcome of tomorrow's vote, I've really enjoyed running for the Board -- meeting so many people in Peoria who are so deeply invested in the future of our city, talking with my opponents, and really learning how much local democracy matters. It's been a real education for me, seeing this part of a functioning democracy from the inside, and by and large it's been a heartening experience -- watching America work the way it's meant to work, with people of good will working hard to improve their communities. Whatever the outcome, I am enormously grateful for that experience.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
Thought I'd do a little update on Striped Cat and Grey Cat. I have never seen an instance of feline hero worship quite as dire as Striped Cat's worship for Grey Cat.
Striped Cat routinely follows him around the house ... any time we see Grey Cat on the move, we can be sure Striped Cat will be about 5 feet behind. Striped Cat likes to snuggle up against Grey Cat to sleep, but first he always checks to see what position Grey Cat is sleeping in and then mimics that position. Seriously. And if Grey Cat moves, Striped Cat checks and adjusts his position accordingly.
Striped Cat only wants to eat out of whatever bowl Grey Cat is eating out of. He will even half-hang on Grey Cat's back so he can eat the kibble Grey Cat drops. (Still not kidding.) He's lucky Grey Cat is pretty mellow about being messed with while eating. Grey Cat will switch bowls so Striped Cat can have the bowl Striped Cat is trying to share with Grey Cat, which results in Striped Cat following Grey Cat to the new bowl.
Grey Cat loves lettuce, particularly dark leafy varieties. Striped Cat does NOT love lettuce, but every time Grey Cat has lettuce, Striped Cat wants a piece, which he then eats, makes a terrible face that says, "Ugh, why are we eating this?" and then he eats the rest of it anyway -- or at least until Grey Cat stops eating HIS lettuce.
Grey Cat loves showers. He thinks we take showers just to provide him with sauna opportunities. Striped Cat, again, not such a fan -- the noise of the shower terrifies him, like it does all normal cats. At first he would pace outside the door while we showered and Grey Cat sat inside enjoying his schvitz. Then he started sitting against the outside of the door. Then he would sit half in and half out of the door, staring frantically around to make sure escape routes had not been cut off. Now he follows Grey Cat in and sits inside the bathroom for the whole shower, the entire time with this look on his face like, "Why is this supposed to be fun? PLEASE can you turn off the noisy monster sound?" But if Grey Cat is going to do it, Striped Cat is going to do it.
Grey Cat seems resigned to his worshipful shadow, though now and then he makes a gargantuan effort to have a nap to himself (it never works). Once I had to separate them when they were fighting, and I had to lock up Grey Cat because I'm too cumbersome to catch Striped Cat (who is speedy and slippery). When I came to let Grey Cat out of the bathroom after a cooling-down period, he refused to come out -- he was having such a peaceful, worship-free nap in there.
Life is hard on the pedestal.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Flippy, on the other hand, was somewhat non-plussed. Flippy's not a fan of me reorienting gravity on him (by, say, turning over) to begin with. Turning gravity OFF by getting in the water freaked him out. If I can transcribe the sensations coming from my belly, Flippy was saying something like:
"Wait ... WTF ... WHERE IS GRAVITY? WHERE'D IT GO???!?!!?!?!?!??!"
He has pretty recognizable patterns of behavior by now, and the water definitely threw him for a loop.
Threw me for a bit of a loop too when I got in -- it turns out you're a LOT more buoyant when you're pregnant. I thought I was going to pop right back up like a cork!
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Of course, I still remember the first 50 digits of pi, because that's TOTALLY going to come in useful and not be look-up-able!
The singularity needs to come faster.
Monday, March 02, 2009
Which is not quite true. In addition to knowing he's an unusually active child, we learned this weekend that Flippy likes Frank Sinatra.
We go on many Saturdays to see Bridget and the Boogiemen at Panache (7 to closing), with various friends, which is about the right speed for me currently -- leaning back on a couch and listening to music while eating incessantly is about all the social excitement I can handle.
Back when my baby books informed me Flippy could hear and would recognize sounds he heard in the womb later when he was born, I started trying to think of what good jazz I would expose him to, so he would not be born a cultural philistine (or too tainted by my unholy love for Eurotrance). I settled on Fly Me to the Moon as a good song to sing him -- catchy melody, fun words, makes an appearance on Sesame Street as "Slimy to the Moon" with astronaut worms, one of my favorite songs -- and started singing him that now and then.
We requested it when we first went to Panache and the band now plays it for us whenever we drop by on a Saturday. Well, this Saturday, when they started playing it, Flippy suddenly went crazy and kept kicking around until they finished the melody, calmed down during the solos, and then went nuts again when they played the melody at the end.
Which I thought was pretty cool. (And part of me is at least a little surprised to learn that this whole "baby can not just hear but recognize sounds in the womb" thing isn't just nonsense.)
So we know at least one thing about Flippy: He likes Fly Me to the Moon. You should, too. It's a good song!
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
My belly went SPROING a week ago, but this week it's been mostly maintaining (although I have a sneaking suspicion we're about to start another growth spurt ... I feel stretchy).
Whenever Grey Cat leans against my belly and purrs, Flippy flips like crazy. I'm not sure if this is excitement or protest. But it's super-cute!
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Monday, February 09, 2009
All the discussion of how the fetus can "already hear" has made me very aware of what I talk about during my day. Flippy is getting an education in philosophy as well as trance music. And seems to spend a lot of time lot of time listening to people complain about current events.
People either think the name Flippy is adorable or think we're pre-emptively scarring Flippy for life. I haven't been able to identify a pattern to who finds it cute/awful, but there's no middle ground!
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
I really felt like the State Senate did a very good job of making the proceedings clear, as unusual as they were, and I thought the prosecutor was excellent. Blago's rank nonsense made me want to put a fist through my screen while he was talking, but the prosecutor's rebuttal was good. stuff.
But I think the really comforting part of the whole proceeding was how even when democratic government fails fairly catastrophically, it still succeeds. Our idiot ex-governor was ousted peacefully, openly, with a clear and public process. Our new governor was sworn in moments later. Even as state government was embroiled in this catastrophe, the legislature kept meeting, the bureaucracy kept working, and everybody, inside the statehouse and in the state more generally, waited patiently for the process to work itself out.
It's sometimes hard to remember that the often-dull and overlooked work of state government (as well as the ponderous machinations of their federal counterparts) is in fact one of the greatest achievements of mankind. There was no violence, there was no coup, there was no secret voting -- just an open process of removal, conducted under the law, resulting in the peaceful transfer of power from one guy to another. That's a neat thing.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Last night we're watching television, and I see cookies on TV, and, as I now do every time I see food on television, I said, "Mmm, I want cookies." (I even want vile and disgusting things I would never actually eat. All food is appetizing now!)
Mr. McGee said, and this is not all verbatim, but pretty close: "I was just thinking that too. I really wish we had some cookies."
"Why don't you go make some?"
"Do we have the stuff to make cookies?"
"Flour, sugar, butter ... yeah, I'm pretty sure we even have brown sugar and baking soda!"
"But don't you need special stuff?"
"Dear, we always have the stuff to make cookies. I just hate making them, cakes are easier."
"Well if I'd known we had the stuff, I would have made some!"
"Why don't you go make some now?" I asked.
"Oh," he said, "I've never made cookies from scratch."
Long pause. "Are you screwing with me?" (Only I didn't say screwing.)
"No, I've never made them."
"Wait here." I go in the kitchen, find the Nestle semi-sweet morsels, and come back with the chocolate chips and the mixer attachment. "Here's the recipe. Here's the right attachment for the mixer. Go nuts."
He goes in the kitchen and makes the cookies, with lots of lawyerly over-exactness, which is why I have to be in the other room so I don't feel the burning urge to micromanage when he bakes. When I (and every girlfriend I asked) make the Nestle chocolate chip cookies, I just throw everything in one bowl and turn on the mixer. (As one friend said, "If the butter isn't frozen solid, I call it a win!") He's in there softening the butter, creaming it with the sugar, pre-mixing the salt, baking soda, and flour in a whole separate bowl (extra dishes! Ack!). In his own defense, he pointed out that I always tell him to read the recipe before he starts cooking, since he has in the past started a recipe before realizing he doesn't have all the ingredients, and that he's just doing what I said and following the directions. This is true.
He successfully bakes the cookies, with much fretting over uneven browning of the bottoms, are how do I get them done without burning, and taste testing of each batch. We're sitting on the couch enjoying his very tasty cookies, and I ask, "Now that you've made cookies, aren't you proud you can make them whenever you want?"
"No, now I'm wondering why you haven't been making me cookies all the time!"
"Because I hate baking cookies! I make you cakes!"
Now my big fear is that since he's discovered the existence of the baking cupboard, I will never, ever again have baking stuff on hand, since I replace the brown sugar when there's a cup left or the baking soda when it's getting low -- when there's enough for one more recipe but not two more recipes. He tends to not replace things until they're entirely run out. I foresee a future devoid of vanilla extract.
Monday, January 26, 2009
(Parents will know that three lines means it's a girl, a snail means it's a boy.)
We also learned that Flippy is, to use the technical medical term, GINORMOUS. At 20 weeks they estimated he weighed about a pound -- average at 20 weeks is 10.5 ounces. Uncool, Flippy! Uncool! (Apparently women with higher levels of education are more likely to have extremely large babies. I knew that second graduate degree was a mistake!) Everyone at the office also commented that he has the longest thigh bones they've ever seen. Flippy is definitely his father's son.
Which explains why I appear to be big. Upon finding out I'm about 4 1/2 months along, everyone says, "You're only four and a half months? You look SIX!" Part of this is because I'm short, only 5'2", so there's nowhere for Flippy to go but out. Part of this is because I'm gestating Paul Freakin' Bunyan in here, and Paul Freakin' Bunyan's father is 6'4". (And has a big head. I know. I've bought him hats.)
Which leads me to my first complaint about OTHER PEOPLE during pregnancy. I know that most things people say to pregnant women that come off as inane or annoying are just people making conversation. "You're so big!" isn't code for, "You whale," but code for "OMG you're pregnant!" So I'm cool with that. I'm starting to get a little neurotic when people point out I look six months along because I'm a little freaked out about having a ginormous baby, but I'm still trying to be cool.
But if ONE MORE PERSON tells me I'm eating too much or informs me I have gestational diabetes, I will scream. Seriously. (And what kind of obstetricians are you people going to that they don't make you pee in the cup to check for sugar every time you come within 30 yards of the building?) Some random lady in the supermarket sternly told me, "You're too big for four and a half months. You need to stop gaining so much weight. It isn't good for the baby." (Which is extra-awesome because not only is it almost-inconceivably rude, but because I'm still UNDER my pre-pregnancy weight due to the epic morning sickness, the December stomach flu, and Paul Freakin' Bunyan in here eating all my calories to fuel his constant flipping.)
I do finally understand, though, why my husband has the metabolism of a rabid squirrel*. It's been particularly irritating since I got pregnant since I'M the one over here creating life and HE'S the one sleeping 9 or 10 hours a night. I'm discovering it takes enormous amounts of calories and energy to sustain the constant Flipmotion of Mini-Mr.-McGee, so I guess it takes correspondingly more to sustain the full-size version of Mr. McGee.
All of this is good because it means Flippy is healthy and growing well, and that's really what's important here. However, if I end up in the national news as "Peoria Woman Gives Birth to 14-Pound Baby," I am going to be PISSED. OFF.
*Actually, squirrels don't really get rabies that much.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Friday, January 09, 2009
Saturday, January 03, 2009
I'm down 10 lbs. from my pre-pregnancy weight, making pregnancy officially the most effective diet I've ever been on.
Now let me hasten to say that Flippy continues healthy, and while I'm absolutely miserably uncomfortable, none of this is dangerous. Just miserable. And morning sickness isn't particularly treatable, either. So I have to suffer through, and Mr. McGee has to suffer through me suffering through (I suffer loudly). The second trimester woes -- back aches, ligament pain, etc. -- are starting to kick in, which I think is brutally unfair, as I am not doing with the FIRST trimester woes yet! Get in line, you rotten woes! Wait your turn!
I'm trying to be philosophical about it and count my blessings -- Flippy's healthy, I have good medical care, pregnancy only lasts nine months, I have a husband who's being really cool about having to do all the housework and shopping and cooking -- but I'm getting less philosophical by the day. Especially because it's difficult for me to leave the house, so I'm really freaking bored. The ob/gyn keeps telling me to lie down and rest, which I do (the couch is growing an imprint of my butt), but OH MY GOD, I'M SO BORED.
I swear, though, what annoys me the most is that my skin looks like absolute crap. For some reason I feel the most cheated by the fact that not only am I not glowing, I look like the cryptkeeper's wife. My skin has never looked this terrible, and I went through puberty without getting this many zits! Brutal.