Monday, December 29, 2008

Merry Effing Christmas

12/21: Evan falls out of bed onto hardwood floor, hits head. Cries briefly, falls asleep (passes out?) Starts projectile vomiting two hours later.

12/22: After projectile vomiting all over his (horrified) sister, Evan pays a visit to Children's Hospital for his First CT Scan. There's one for the baby book. Doctors find no evidence of fractures or swelling, and he is sent home with a new binky and a small stuffed reindeer.

12/23: Noticeably subdued, off his feed.

12/24: Running fever, poor appetite, in distress. Unhappy baby.

12/25: Fever, poor appetite, crying. Fever breaks midday and he seems to perk up a bit.

12/26: Mommy wakes up exhausted with upset stomach. Too much Christmas? Maybe. Goes for a fast 4 1/2 mile run anyway, spends the rest of the day in a downward spiral of nausea and bone-crushing fatigue.

12/27: see above (minus the running)

12/28: ditto

12/29: Mommy wakes up with slightly less nausea but an eye full of pink (what the experts refer to as "conjuctivitis"). Evan engaged in a full-blown and impressively voracious growth spurt--eating every 1-2 hours all night and day.

12/30: ???

On the Bright Side:
  • Wonderful husband
  • Happy, healthy (knocking the crap out of wood) 3 year-old who met the holiday with sheer joy, generosity of spirit, and love for everyone around her. What a tremendous gift, in a year that's been filled with behavioral challenges and illness of every sort.
  • At least I'm not pregnant.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


  • Evan: 4 1/2 months old, rolling over, smiling, cooing, chuckling, charming the pants off everyone. Not sleeping, though, which is pretty much the opposite of charming.
  • Sydney: 3 years and 3 months old, coloring inside the lines, drawing representational figures, counting to 14, pedaling a bike, swinging without having to be pushed, expressing an interest in learning to read, eating like a horse, interested in what's healthy and what's not (my favorite from the healthy list: "a little bit of wine"), potty training, charming the socks off everyone (most of the time). Occasionally pooping in panties, which is pretty much the opposite of charming.
  • Chrissie: 33 years and 3 weeks old, rolling over, smiling, occasionally chuckling, potty trained, not sleeping much, running like crazy and feeling good about it, not reading as much as she wants to, not cooking as much as she wants to, not altogether charming most of the time. Back to work and feeling...hmm.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

She said it, I didn't

Overheard just a few moments ago:

Cade, attempting to get Sydney to brush her teeth: "Open. Open your mouth."

Sydney, mouth clamped tightly shut: "Mm-mm." (Translation: No way, not now, not ever.)

Cade, exhasperated: "Open. Your. Mouth."

Sydney, shaking head wildly: "MM-MM."

Cade, rhetorically: "Hey--who's in charge here?"

Sydney, after a moment's pause: "Umm...Mommy?"

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Why Pacifiers are Wonderful

Taking naps at the Blues & BBQ fest

Thursday, October 16, 2008

For the Undecided

One of my favorite bloggers, on why women should categorically reject John McCain's candidacy:

Read This Now

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My 3-year-old is having an existential crisis

Last night, while reading an earlier installment in the Berenstain Bears series:

Sydney: "Where is Sister Bear?"
Mommy: "This story takes place before Sister Bear was born, so she's not in this story."
S: "But why is she not born?"
M: "Because...uh...because it hasn't happened yet."
S: "Is she in Mama Bear's tummy?"
M: "I don't think so, not yet."
S: "But where is she then?"
M: "She's not alive yet."
S: "What's 'alive' mean?"
M: "Alive means you're born."
S: "Am I alive?"
M: "Yes."
S: "And Baby Evan?"
M: "Yes."
S: "But where was I before I was alive?"
S: "But where was I, Mommy?"
M: "I'm not sure, sweetheart. You just weren't here yet."
S: "Mommy?"
M: "Yes, baby."
S: "I don't like that."

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Compare and Contrast, Part Two

1) A fellow shopper at Whole Foods yesterday afternoon, after remarking that she'd noticed me, Sydney and Evan several times throughout the course of her shopping: "You have such well-behaved children! That's amazing!!"

2) Sydney, in time out for the fourth time this evening (calling from her bedroom upstairs): "Mommy, I peed myself! I peed all over myself!"

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

To Sydney, On the Occasion of Your 3rd Birthday

You, my love, are a wonder to behold. Your Dad often remarks that you are "super," and I think that really sums it up--the force of your personality, the extent of your kindness, the extraordinariness of your being. You've grown so much in the past year that I am at a loss to describe and document all of the changes, so I'll just start by listing the things you like, which are many and varied and sometimes wonderfully surprising.

You love to play. All kids love to play, of course, but the quality of your play is so imaginative, so exhilarated, that it is a thrill to watch you. You're a leader on the playground, the creator of scenarios, the referee of your own narratives. A favorite these days is Big Bad Wolf--a game, as far as I can tell, that mostly involves running around screaming "big bag wolf!" at the top of your lungs. The other kids follow along with dutiful enthusiasm. Another favorite game which you recently invented, and which is mainly played at home, is something you call "Halloween," in which you load up your plastic cart with every toy and baby doll that will fit and, with Mommy in tow, trot from corner to corner, collecting "trick or treats" from imaginary neighbors.You are clearly practicing for the big night and I just hope you don't burn out before it's actually here.

You love your baby dolls, of which you have many. They are a source of comfort when you are distressed, but you also love to take care of them: you feed them, dress (and undress) them, walk them in their strollers, put them down for naps, fetch their blankets and put them in Time Out when they act up. A few of your favorites are Papa Baby, Baby Nu-Nu, Blue Baby, The Twins, and the plush Eeyore that Grandma bought you at Disney last Christmas. I used to fret about dolls, wondering if I somehow, subconsciously--despite my rejection of tradition gender roles--pushed them on you, but now I understand this to be a beautiful and natural extension of your personality, your love of life, your natural kindness and compassion.

You love to read. This makes Mommy and Daddy very happy, of course, but you do seem to come by it honestly. You lose yourself in a good book, as every bibliophile does, and pepper the reading of every story with questions. Why did so-and-so do that? What is going to happen next? Why does that boy look angry/sad/happy? Or, as you often ask: Where is so-and-so's Mommy? (Dad tries to make you wait until the end of the page to ask your questions, but I think he's fighting a losing battle.) A few weeks ago we took you to the public library for the first time, and you got your very own library card--something I hope you will use often and with much enthusiasm over the course of your lifetime.

You are a WONDERFUL big sister to Evan. You are very protective of him and are quick to inform everyone who seems curious that they make look but not touch. When Evan cries, you say "Mommy, your baby wants milk." If Mommy can't get to him right away you lay down next to him and pat his belly, or sing to him, or assure him that "It's okay, Mommy's coming." You have been so generous with our love, with our time, with our attention, which just a few weeks ago you had all to yourself. Evan is a lucky boy to have you in his life.

This has been a hard year for you, in some ways. Mommy's pregnancy caused you some anxiety, but you have emerged from your struggles with a new kind of confidence and security, a steadily increasing sense of self that I now understand is my job to nurture, to protect, to pay close attention to throughout the coming years. I can only promise to do my best. I have a feeling you'll let me know if I slip up.

It is a gorgeous day today, unseasonably mild and cloudless--a perfect day to celebrate your birth, the person you've become, all the manifestations of you we will have the privilege to witness. I am so lucky to be your mother, to share in your experience. We love you so much, Sydney, and I hope you carry that love out into the world every day, for the rest of your life.

Happy Birthday,


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Compare and Contrast

1) The sweet but painfully young salesperson at American Eagle, where I found myself a few days before Evan was born, on a desperate search for the elusive button-down-the-front but not-too-frumpy pajamas: "Are you looking for back-to-school clothes for your kids?"

2) The nurse at my dermatologist's office this morning, after spending the requisite moments gazing and cooing over Evan: "So are you babysitting, or are you a nanny?"

Monday, September 15, 2008

Heal Thyself

Evan is six weeks old today. I should be attending my post-partum check-up this week but that won't happen for awhile, on account of my belated request for an appointment (apparently my OB has other patients). Funny how different things are the second time around.

Take my mental health, for example. Last time, around this time, I found myself sobbing in the midwife's office, a dreadfully dramatic response to an innocuous and routine question. "How is everything going?" she'd asked, and I'd broken down, confessing the nearly constant crying, the panic attacks, my dread and uncertainty, the nearly crippling anxiety and sorrow I had assumed just came with the new-mommy territory. The sweet woman listened, nodded, and sat back. "Do you think you might be depressed?" she asked.

The question was rhetorical, of course, though I actually considered my response before answering in the affirmative. Yes, I supposed that I was. What had been staring me in the face for 6 excruciating weeks yet had remained maddeningly obscured suddenly became clear: I had something resembling post-partum depression. It wasn't debilitating but it was damned near coming close, and when I returned to my mother's house later that day with a vial of Lexapro I only paused for a moment, tablet in hand, considering my options. What effect would this have on my baby, my milk supply, my sense of self? I made a deal with myself before swallowing the tiny white pill: I would give it a shot, keep an eye on the baby for signs of distress or behavioral changes, would monitor my own behavior to try and gauge the effects, if any, of the medication. If I noticed anything different--like, different in a bad way--I would stop taking the medication. Simple as that.

The funny thing is, I never once considered that the medication might actually help, which it did, and almost immediately. Within days I felt tremendously better, no longer crazed with a sorrow I couldn't name, a terror that wasn't grounded in reality. Sydney went about her happy business of growing fatter and we all lived happily ever after, even when I stopped taking the Lexapro six months later.

I discussed this with my current OB before Evan was born, when she took my history during one of our first appointments. She was smart enough to bring it up occasionally throughout my pregnancy, in a way that didn't feel intrusive or judgmental, but responsible and attentive. In the hospital after Evan was born, on the morning I was discharged, she brought it up again, reminding me to monitor myself and to remind Cade to monitor my behavior for signs of depression. Amazingly enough, despite my training and experience, I sort of brushed her off, thinking that my situation last time was so terribly different--what with that silly Storm and all--that depression wouldn't be an issue this time. I mean, I had my house to go home to, my family waiting in the wings, all the creature comforts anyone could ask for--how could I possibly become depressed?

And yet.

I called the doctor when Evan was 8 days old. The symptoms were returning--the crying, the anxiety and fear, the despair and guilt. Only this time, the stakes were higher: I had an older child to attend to, someone who relies on me to provide safety and stability. And dammit, I knew better. I had experience with this and a tried and true way to alleviate my own suffering. What kind of asshole would deprive herself of that?

This time around, I didn't have to wait 6 weeks to feel better. This time around, I am enjoying every moment of my baby's new life, and I am a better mother to my older child, who needs me now more than ever. This time around, I'm not ashamed to admit that the medication helps, that it is the right choice for me, for my children, for our family.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Introducing Evan

Evan Manning Roux
August 4, 2008
5:42 p.m.
6 pounds, 14 ounces
20 inches

Monday, August 4, 2008

Going to the Chapel and We're...

Oh, wait--we already did that.

While I imagine that sometime in the next couple of hours I will be wearing a gown, it will probably be significantly less fashionable and there will likely be a lot more screaming.

Wish us luck.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Short List of Things to Do When You're More Than One Week Overdue With Second Child

1. Consume copious amounts of organic cocoa puffs
2. Yell at well-meaning husband
3. Assure toddler that "Mommy and Daddy were just being silly"
4. Ignore all phone calls, except for the one from afore-mentioned toddler's school, informing you of her apparent intestinal virus
5. Change copious amounts of stinky diapers
6. Wash hands with the frequency of a surgeon with OCD
7. Curse God, sex, and whoever happens to be standing within 50 feet
8. Lie awake at night pondering everything that could, and probably will, be wrong with fetus
9. Weep openly in grocery store when attack of sciatica leaves you breathless and temporarily paralyzed
10. Repeat to self: "Elephants are pregnant for two years. Elephants are pregnant for two years..."

Friday, July 11, 2008

Analyze This

I've had some phenomenaly wierd dreams this pregnancy, but none quite as disturbing as the one I had last night. In the dream, I was in front of a small audience and had for some reason been given the task of preparing a large cut of pork. The meat was odd-looking, sort of iridescent and purple, glistening under the harsh overhead lights. As I began to saw away, attempting to manuever two blunt knives around the hulking form, the audience grew agitated and started to scream.

"Pull it!!" they chanted. "Pull it, pull it, pull it!!!!"

They wanted me to pull the pork, not slice it. Try as I might, I could not figure out how to do this with two knives and luckily I woke up before things got really ugly.

I cannot begin to imagine from what subsconscious depths this material comes. Too much Top Chef? I don't think so--the worst you'll see on that show is some bleeped-out cursing, muttered after someone's cauliflower mousse doesn't end up with enough bacon essence, or something. Maybe it's a labor anxiety dream--like instead of everyone chanting "Push!"?

I don't know. Any dream analysts out there?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

37 weeks

You know you're in a bad way when you start to resent not just individuals but entire species. The other day Sydney and I were browsing through one of her Highlights magazines when we came across a section devoted to different types of birds and their respective nests. Sydney wanted to know why there were eggs in the nests and as I explained to her that baby birds come from eggs which come from their mommies' bodies, I saw her glance at my belly. "People carry their babies in their tummies until its time for them to be born," I told her, "like Mommy has Baby Evan in her tummy. But birds get to lay eggs and so they don't carry their babies for very long in their tummies."

She seemed to accept this and we moved on. What caught me was my use of the word "get." Mommy birds get to lay eggs. How I hated those birds, with their svelte figures and smug expressions, dozing ever so peacefully atop their brood. But not as much as I hate mice, with their beady eyes and 20-day gestations. I might be tempted to add dogs and cats to the list, as they're only pregnant for about 2 months, except they also have to squeeze out an entire litter, which I don't envy in the slightest. Nor do I hate the elephants, who are forced to carry their spawn for almost two years--the mere thought of which makes me want to eat an entire box of ice cream sandwiches and take a nap.

The next day we took Sydney to the zoo, where I found myself enthralled by the elephants. Poor girls. If I were them I'd want to stomp the shit out of some birds.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


I subscribe to a couple of pregnancy e-newsletters, not as much for the information--which tends to run along the lines of "you're probably having a lot of heartburn this week" and "you might want to start a dialogue with your doctor about what type of childbirth experience is right for you"--as for the opportunity to remind myself that I am actually making progress. Last week, however, one of the newsletters offered a section on the topic of sex during pregnancy, with this rather bewildering piece of information:

If you engage in oral sex, your partner should not blow air into your vagina. Blowing air can cause an air embolism (a blockage of a blood vessel by an air bubble), which can be potentially fatal for mother and child.

Now, I don't know about you, but I have a hard time imagining how something like this might actually become a part of a couple's sexual repertoire. I mean, seriously.

Monday, June 30, 2008


My regular route to work takes me past the American Cancer Society office on River Road and Labarre. Today they appeared to be having some sort of function, with tables and a tent and a bunch of people milling about. As I turned on to Labarre I saw a man standing at the outside edge of the group, wearing a suit and smoking a cigarette. It struck me that it takes a particular brand of hubris to smoke a cigarette at an ACS function. Someone should either slap that guy or shake his hand.

This morning it just struck me as kind of awesome.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

From the Mouths of Babes

You sure do get a lot of attention when you're pregnant. It can be particularly awkward in my line of work, and it has become clear to me that many of my clients have no idea how--or whether--to react to my pregnancy. Now that my belly sticks out like a basketball and, try as I might, I have to waddle down the hall to greet them in the waiting room, the people I counsel have no choice but to acknowledge the situation. They are kind people, all of them, and they mean well, but for me it is almost unbearably awkward--something like the nightmare where you show up to class wearing nothing but your gym socks.

While everyone has been kind, and I have yet to hear the sorts of things some pregnant women are subjected to--"You look like you're ready to pop!" or "You sure you don't have twins in there?"--I am forced to wonder how truthful everyone is being. The other day Sydney was lying on my bed while I got dressed and when I finished and turned around to walk out of the room, she laughed, pointed at my midriff, and shouted "Mommy, you look silly!" She then proceeded to repeat said proclamation over and over, laughing with the gleeful abandon of one who has yet to develop those buzz-killing social skills we adults are forced to employ.

So. Who should I believe?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Things I Find Troubling, Bewildering, or Just Plain Unacceptable

1. (Bewildering) Truck parked across the street from our house, presumably involved in some sort of construction/renovation. Yolk-yellow, scuffed-up plastic testicles dangling from the rear bumper. Why? At one point in time this sort of accessory may have seemed clever or maverick or whatever, but now it just strikes me as sad.

2. (Troubling) Those who despise Hillary Clinton. Again, why? I have friends, Democrats even, women even, those who would likely describe themselves as liberals, who spew such intense vitriol when her name is mentioned that I can just barely tolerate the "discussion." Granted, I went for Obama in the primary and generally prefer his approach to Clinton's, but I would have gleefully skipped to the polls to vote for either one of them. But I guess, as a whole, we still do hate women that much.

3. ( Unacceptable) Yesterday, as I checked in to my bi-monthly OB appointment, the receptionist gestured to a box on the floor full of black bags and asked if I would like to have one. I saw what looked like a picture of a bottle on the cover of one of the bags, so I bypassed my immediate impulse to always accept free stuff and asked what was in the bags. Formula samples, she replied. I politely declined her offer and she gazed at me, obviously bewildered. "But they're free," she said.
Today I am 34 weeks and 5 days pregnant. I am ready to be done. I envy those women who love being pregnant, because I truly don't. More than the physical discomforts I dislike the emotional issues, the anxiety, the waiting, my inexplicable inability to write or read anything even remotely reflective while gestating. Last time, when I became pregnant with Sydney, I had been working on several short stories and writing consistently, reflectively, powerfully I thought, every day. No sooner than the pee hit the stick did I dry up entirely--I couldn't write, couldn't think, couldn't sit down and do it. I've had a similar experience this time, as evidenced by my hiatus from the blogosphere. At first I blamed it on confidentiality: I hadn't told any of my clients I was pregnant, and I couldn't imagine not blogging about the pregnancy. But even after they were all told, after everyone knew, I found myself coming up empty. What is that? Why does that happen?

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Last Thursday I woke up before the alarm, contemplating my re-entry into the blogosphere, which I had decided would begin that day. Where would I start? What sort of pithy synopsis could I give that would fairly and entertainingly encapsulate the last 4 months of our lives, if indeed I still had an audience to be concerned with? Would I start by announcing the pregnancy, the gender of the baby in my womb, the nightmares and fantasies that have ensued since I peed on the stick in the bathroom at work, not long after writing the last post on this blog? Or would I start with Sydney, her various transformations, her struggles and triumphs, our adjustment to the idea of life as a family of four? I lay in bed, listening to the slight, muffled sounds of my daughter's morning stirrings, and realized I was looking forward to writing again.

But then. Sydney and I were having breakfast when Cade called downstairs with the news that Ashley Morris had died. I sat, stunned and uncomprehending, while Sydney happily dragged her waffle through the dregs of syrup on her plate. I started to cry. His wife, I thought, his babies. What kind of fucking sense did this make? I heard Cade upstairs, getting into the shower, and later, when he kissed me goodbye and agreed--in that soft, quiet way he has that always makes me feel like a raving lunatic--that this was terrible and made absolutely no fucking sense, I was struck again by the essential singularity of our psyches. I had no idea what he was feeling. Shocked? Scared? Disoriented? He always seems a little resigned to me, like he has come to expect that bad things happen and so when they do they don't come as a shock, but how accurate is that perception? I wanted so much, in that moment, to know, to understand, to merge. And I didn't want him to get into his car and drive away, into the bad, big world that takes good people way too soon.

I didn't know Ashley very well, although blogging is a funny thing: you get to know people intimately without the myriad of face-to-face interactions that normally constitute a relationship. And Ashley was such an open book, a real person, an often kind and sporadically vicious person who called it like he saw it. I liked that about him. And when we did have the occasion to talk face-to-face, I was always struck by the timbre of his voice, the softness of which was so incongruous on his large frame, his large persona. I liked that about him, too.

I'll attend his funeral tomorrow, along with many, many people who knew him much better than I did, with my unknowable husband and our child, our son, kicking his way into life in the soft, dark, safe interior of my belly. I'll try to be brave, like we all have to be, and push away the panic that rises in my throat when I drop my daughter off in the morning, when I kiss my husband goodnight and goodbye, when I think of everything I have to lose and how it would, or will, feel to lose those things.

We should feel happy we have so many things to lose. We should feel happy. We should feel terrified.