As I had predicted, things got much better the next morning. Except for the fact that I hadn't gotten much sleep. Alas. Anyway, Spousal Unit voluntarily took care of the Gadlet all the next night and I took over the tasks he usually does -- like the dishes and cleaning up. It was a nice break. I think we might alternate evening jobs from here on out. Then, yesterday he stayed home all morning so that I could do work. It was glorious. And, he has promised to stay home all day every Thursday until I go back to work so that I can get stuff done on the Dreaded D. So, all in all, a good fight that cleared the air. He thinks maybe every now and then we need that kind of catharsis. I think that the next time he wants a catharsis I won't let him anywhere near the Nyquil.

Now on to funner more trivial things. Ever since I got pregnant, I have been growing my hair. I did it because I figured 1) I should take advantage of the fabulous super-model pregnant hair while I could and 2) it would be easier with a tiny baby to not have to dry and style my hair every day but to just pull it back into some kind of restraining device. So for the first time in my adult life I let my hair grow past my collar. It hit about shoulder length, with some layers. And while I was pregnant, it was great. All that extra hair (you don't shed while pregnant) was fantastic and it always looked good no matter what I did. And I was right that while having a tiny baby the last thing I wanted to do was to fuss with my hair. But I have to confess that ever since the Gadlet was born, it has pretty much looked terrible no matter what I did. Add to this the fact that about a couple of weeks ago I started shedding. Well, shedding implies a slow, gradual process. This has been more like I was a collie dog blowing my coat at the end of the winter season. It was like, WHUMP -- there goes all of my hair. Seriously -- it has been coming out by the fistful. And like when your dog blows its coat - the hair is everywhere -- on all of the furniture, in my bed, covering all of my clothees, and worse, stuck to my kid. Every time I look at the Gadlet, she's been covered in my hair. Once one strand got so tangled up in her fingers I thought it was going to cut off the circulation It was getting really gross. Plus she's started deliberate grabbing -- so my hair, right at her grabbing reach was perfect for her to pull. Not fun.

So yesterday I had it whacked. My hairdresser, Fair, is so great -- she's been cutting my hair for about 13 years. She did my hair the day I got married. When the Gadlet was born, I made a special trip into the shop to show off to Fair. So, this hairdresser has seen it all. I went in yesterday and said - get me back to my normal hair! My chin-length, short do that tucks behind the ears.

Here's a photo:

(Looking good, huh? -- well, if you ignore the double chin, anyway...)

The Gadlet has also been considering making some hair changes. She was thinking about going Goth:

But, it looked way too Diana Ross for her taste.

Then she thought perhaps Red was the new Black ...

But while she felt very contemplative and poetical, it wasn't quite right.

Then, she found it. The perfect Gadlet Hair:

Let me preface this post with the following disclaimers:

1. I love my husband very, very much. I intend to spend the rest of my life with this man and am more than happy that I have spent half of my life thus far with him.

2. He has been fighting a really terrible cold.

3. He is a great father and a fantastic husband.

4. I have not had a full night’s sleep in about a year. (Factoring in the pregnancy and the Gadlet’s needs).

5. I have put my dissertation work on hold for the past month while he worked on a Terribly Important Conference Presentation

6. I am writing this post at midnight. – a time I have not been awake for (of my own accord) in about a year.

7. We have just had a terrible fight and the Nyquil kicked in for him before we could finish it.


Today was a totally terrible day. It began with griping, ended in sobbing, and in between was filled with maggots, dirty dishes, dirty laundry, a chaotic house, and a constipated baby. (Oh, and had a smidgen of therapeutic Buffy.)

Here is how it began. My schedule last night:

9:30 p.m.: Nurse, go to sleep
3:00 a.m.: Nurse
3:3:0 a.m.: Return to sleep
5:30 a.m.: Nurse
6:30 a.m.: Spousal Unit’s alarm goes off. He keeps sleeping.

I lay there between my sleeping baby and husband and listen to some damn story on NPR about how the world is coming to an end because of global warming or homelessness or Iraq or Iran or Russia or Bush or trash or flying monkeys. I ask Spousal Unit “are you listening to this?” He says, “sort of.” A few minutes later, just when I get interested in the special interest story about pie eating contests or a swimming pig or the two-year-old art prodigy that is supposed to make me feel better about the fact that the world is coming to an end, he hits the snooze. I lay there looking at the ceiling for a while until The Gadlet wakes up and nurses again. We hang out in bed a bit, she dozes. I don’t. Spousal Unit hits the snooze button. Again. Around 8:00 a.m. the Gadlet and I get out of bed. Spousal Unit decides to stay home from work because he feels so crappy, so we try to let him sleep. I take a shower and leave the Gadlet in her co-sleeper with a monitor on so that I know if she’s getting grouchy. After I get out of the shower, I gather all of the bathing equipment and give the Gadlet a bath. All goes according to plan, until I try to put her clothes on – at which point she starts screaming bloody murder. Seriously shrieking. I had to stop dressing her and pick her up for cuddling with her shirt hiked up around her neck and one arm through the sleeve. By the time I’ve calmed her down enough to complete the clothing process, I’m exhausted and she’s starving. So, we go downstairs to nurse at the “nursing station.” (a.k.a. a chiar that is comfortable and a nursing pillow most embarrassingly called, I shit you not, “My Breast Friend.” Gak.) Then I notice the laundry that has been piling up for days and the suitcases that haven’t been unpacked since we got home on Saturday. I take the Gadlet into our bedroom -- that has since been vacated by Spousal Unit -- he’s downstairs doing computer work. I get through folding a basket of clothes and the sorting before the Gadlet starts cranking again. Did I mention that she hasn’t crapped since last Thursday? Makes for a mightily cranky baby. I take her into her room/my study, change her, and stick a thermometer in her ass to attempt to get her to poop. (The pediatrician told me to do it, I swear!) She doesn’t even look phased in any way. She grins and coos and continues to refuse to poop. So, I give up on the Useless Poop Induction Project, set her down and start to send some email about work stuff, when Spousal Unit comes into the room.

“Why did you leave the bathroom such a mess, can’t you ever finish a task?”

Huh? I looked at him incredulously. What bathroom? Oh, right, the bathroom. That was hours ago. But, wait. The man is not complaining to me that I didn’t empty the baby’s bathwater after that screamfest we survived and all the other stuff I've been doing since? Oho, yes he is. I blinked a couple of times, and replied: “Well, if it was in your way, why didn’t you empty it?” He had the grace at least to look sheepish and to admit that that might have been a good solution to things. We have a good chuckle, and he goes downstairs.

Where he finds an army of maggots crawling around on the ceiling. Yes. Maggots. On our kitchen ceiling. Clearly they have hatched from some badly packaged snack food or wheat product and are questing around in search of a place to lay their damned eggs and turn into moths or perhaps flying monkeys that will then get into all of the rest of the nuts and flours and beans and dried fruits. So, Spousal Unit embarks on a de-maggotification. He empties out the whole pantry cabinet and puts all of anything that is suspect in the garbage. Kudos too him for this horrible task. Meanwhile, I empty the annoying and offensive bathwater and continue multitasking the day – laundry, cleaning, childcare, email, health insurance, work stuff, nursing, cleaning, cooking. I do these things all at the same time – so nothing is every getting my full attention but I’m working on 100 things at a time.

When lunch rolls around, thinking that he had had such a shitty morning, and because he feels so sick I make him homemade chicken and matzo ball soup. Yummy. After lunch, the Gadlet falls asleep in the carrier, so I lay down on the couch with her and watch some Buffy (Season 4: Something Blue & Hush). Spousal Unit also takes a nap. I doze a little. After the nap, we both go back to our respective tasks: He’s working on work stuff, I’m working on the house. We jogged along pretty well until bedtime.

When he gets into bed. Spousal Unit decides that now is as good a time as any to bring up the baby’s bathwater. So, he asks me why I can’t ever finish tasks and why he has to always clean up after me. I respond in a completely kind and rational way by asking why the hell he never does anything ever to help out with HIS baby that I spent nine months yakking for and 10 hours in intense pain for and that left me with a frankencoochie and belly and huge ass and a body that will never be the same and that I do everything for at all times every day all day. Then he complained that I never give him credit for the stuff he does do. I reasonably respond by sobbing my heart out and asking why he never volunteers to help so that I can work on my dissertation. Before we can both get actually reasonable, the Nyquil kicks in and he falls asleep. Yes, right in the middle of a fight. Before he is completely unconscious, he murmurs something about how I am right and that he loves me and zzzzz…..

So, here I am – pissed off, crying, alone, exhausted with a terrible headache and a heart full of crap that I need to vent about how annoyed I am with my favorite person in the world.

Except that lately there’s been a bit of competition for that spot. Which is weird and awful, while at the same time comes from something wonderful. And it is kind of ironic, really, that we had this fight today because yesterday I think I came to a really important conclusion about relationships and about being a parent and a partner.

Before the Gadlet, it was obvious where my relationship energy should go – to Spousal Unit. There was just the two of us, and so it was normal and reasonable that he got all of my love and attention. Then the Gadlet was born and this strange thing happened – where there were once two people, now there are three. And we have to create a whole new dynamic of a relationship with her and with us. And for me, that has meant putting her needs above anything else – above my own and above Spousal Unit’s. Her survival depends on my giving her all of my energy – so I took it from all of my other places, from my work, from my own health, from my relationship. I mean, where else can you get the energy for parenthood? It has to come from somewhere. While being with her is so great it gives me some energy back, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t draining my reserves and my other outputs to give to her. Which I want to do – more than anything.

But, yesterday I realized that someday she is going to leave me. It is not only inevitable it is right and perfect that she should do so. And I realized that if I give her all of my energy – everything, and if I don’t save some for myself and for Spousal Unit, when that day comes that she does leave to go and begin her life as a grownup on her own, I’ll be left with nothing. As I was thinking about this, it occurred to me that Spousal Unit is the one who will stay with me when the Gadlet goes. So, yesterday, I decided that I should find a way to give him more of my energy. And I decided that I needed to find a way to give myself some time and energy as well. But today, I forgot to tell him all of this great stuff. Doesn’t that suck? Shitty timing, universe. Shitty timing.

I know tomorrow we’ll wake up and go down to the maggot-free kitchen in our clean clothes and realize that we both were right and we both were wrong and that we love each other more than anything else except the Gadlet and that the other stuff doesn’t matter in the long run. But tonight, feeling like sleep is the last thing I’ll find even though I know that I’ll have to wake up in 2.5 hours to nurse, I’m feeling like life and parenthood and relationships are pretty hard, dammit.

Roadkill Bingo

On my way to school last Tuesday for a group of meetings that I couldn't miss, I hit my 8th animal since starting this particular commute.

That's right. Eight. In two and a half years. A senior colleague told me that in 20 years of driving the same drive, he hasn't hit anything. About a decade ago I commuted to a different location, but yet from here, and for two years I never hit a damned thing. Clearly, I've been cursed in the intervening years. I'm starting to rack up such large numbers that I think I have to make a Roadkill Life-List just so I don't forget them all. This would be bad because when I get to the Pearly Gates and have to have to account for all of my evil deeds, if I can't even remember that 589th chipmunk that I will inevitably hit on my way home from my last day of commuting when I retire in 25 years, I'll be fucked for the next karmic cycle. (How's that for mixin' up the religious myths?)

So, here's the list (roughly in order...)

1. Exploding Robin, August 2005
2. Suicidal Chipmunk, September 2005.
3. Mysterious Ratlike Critter, February 2006 (It was either a large rat or a small possum, but it was cold and snowy and nightime, so I didn't stop to investigate.)
4. Another Suicidal Chipmunk, March 2006.
5. The Deer,November 2006
6. Ziggy the Squirrell, April 2007 (It dodged back and forth and back and forth while I tried to brake, but then ultimately made the wrong decision -- he Zigged when he should have Zagged.)
7. Yet Another Suicidal Chipmunk, May 2007
8. Speedy the Squirrel, November 2007 (This sucker was so fast, I just saw a flash in my peripheral vision and then felt the thump.)

For the first 7, I was completely upset when it happened. I cried. I said a little prayer/mantra/blessing to the Big Wow asking he/she/it to look out for the soul of the little thing that I had just so totally obliterated. (Well, except for the Deer -- for that one I was just so freaked out I think I forgot to thank the universe for the sacrifice of that animal to Petroleum, God of the Commute and to Tenure, Goddess of the Academic Career.) But, by #7 I confess I was becoming a little cynical and perhaps instead of making up my own little prayer I just repeated a great line from Buffy that Willow said when she made an animal sacrifice in order to bring Buffy back from the dead. (What? It could happen.) "May You Find Wings to the Kingdom." It sounded vaguely religious and thankful but yet nonspecfically churchy. But for this last one, though, I swear, I laughed out loud. The damned thing just ran right under my wheels so quickly I didn't even have time to stop. I was driving along, minding my own business, keeping my eyes on the road, and then flash, whump, no more critter. Maybe I'm like Dr. Kevorkian for small furry things. They go all terminal and decide it's their time, and so wait for me to come along and put them out of their misery. Anyway, on Tuesday this squirrell dove under my tires before I even knew what happened. OF COURSE in the only 2 days this whole semester that I drove up to campus, I hit a critter. Statistically, I can see how you might hit a few animals in say, 45 days of commuting per semester. But, shit, I went TWICE and hit something. What the fuck is up?

I've decided now that maybe I'm attracting the roadkill in some way, so I'm going to shift my thinking about it. I've adopted a whole new attitude about this whole thing. From now on, I'm going to be seeking out animals to hit. That's right, little rodents, you better watch out, because here I come -- Stewgad and her Flaming Subaru of Death want YOU. And, just to sweeten the deal, I've made up a bingo card. Perhaps the emu, platypus, pterodactyl and moose are a bit of a stretch, but I'm really holding out hope that I'll bag that flying monkey. So, little mammals, consider yourselves warned. I'm comin' for ya.

For multiple reasons that I can't actually discuss here, today has been a terrrible, horrible no good very bad day. It's like the universe said "you get exactly 64 days postpartum to be with your daughter in a state of unreal bliss, but on that 65th day, the shit is going to fly and stress will bring your happy little world to a screeching halt."

Can I go to bed now and not get up until this stressful day is over?

Checking in from my second mid-day Thursday in the Coffee Shop while Spousal Unit hung out with the Gadlet.

He really enjoys the time with her, it is so great. But today his first comment when he came home at noon was “did you mean to dress to match your daughter?” I looked down, and realized that we were both wearing white shirts, grey sweaters, blue jeans, and dark shoes. While my shoes don’t have sweet little pink flowers on them, we were remarkably matched. I hope this isn’t the start of the mommy-and-me demented matchy-match disease, which is ably documented in the Hanna Andersson catalog. Soon, we’ll look like this:


Anyway, I got a lot accomplished today while drinking my skinny mocha (why do they always ask if you want whipped cream? I think the word “SKINNY” when you order conveys a certain anxiety about the calories and fat you are about to consume, thereby implying “hell no, don’t tempt me with your evil whipped cream, please.” But they always ask anyway. But I digress…) I think that only having 2 hours or so at a stretch is really, really good for my work ethic. When you’ve got a seemingly infinite amount of time looming before you, it doesn’t seem so critical to haul ass through your work. If I’m really honest with myself, I suspect now that I spent about half of my working time farting around – looking at websites, checking the news, reading and commenting on blogs, sending emails, searching for random stuff like “pregnant nausea help” or “babylegs knitting pattern” or “dissertation anxiety” – instead of actually working. But now I know I’ve got 2 hours before SU has to be back at work. That means I have to get as much as possible accomplished. And, it turns out, I’m actually getting a lot accomplished.

Today, I worked through revisions on about 20 pages. Granted, it the section that was in pretty good shape already, but still I feel pretty good about getting through all those pages. I’ve now completed the revisions. But, I realized this time through the chapter, the conclusion sucks. I’m truly terrible at conclusions and always have been. When I get to the end of a chapter, I’m like, OK. There it is. I’m done. I mean, really, didn’t I just say it all? Weren’t you reading the last 50 or 60 pages? If so, you know what I mean so these three terse sentences ought to do it. And that is what my conclusions all look like. I realized today, though that this is becoming a bit of a problem. And that this chapter, which is all about the lead up to the passage of one critical piece of legislation, ends without actually discussing the passage of that legislation. Stupid. I’m really a little stunned that I didn’t do this. It seems so obvious. Anyway, it does give me a great way to end the chapter and to write a new conclusion. Why I didn’t think of this before, I have no clue. But, I’m glad I saw it now.

Basically, though, I still think I can meet my self-imposed Nov. 15th deadline. Cool, huh?

Later Evening Update from the World of Cloth Diapers:

I sunnily went along for the past few days LOVING the cloth diaper experience. Then, the Gadlet remembered to poop. Oh. My. God. Not since the shitty bath have I seen such mess. Essentially, the diaper might not have been there at all. It was like putting a Kleenex on Niagra Falls and hoping to stop the deluge. Man. Spousal Unit gagged. I thought he was going to faint. Again. But, since he installed said diaper, I wasn't very sympathetic. After this whole experience I'm a little less thrilled with the cloth-diaper thing, but I've got a plan for dealing with it. My plan is to ensure that she’s in the disposables for every time she poops. Good plan, huh?

Good thing she's adorable and learning to chuckle.


I’m back in the coffee shop doing work while the Gadlet hangs out in her bouncy seat (a.k.a. the Baby Vibrator) while her father works on MATLAB. In a miracle of miracles, he dressed her this morning in COMPLETELY MATCHING clothing. I don’t know if the Dadness had left the building or what, but her pants actually went with her shirt. Go figure. And Kudos to Spousal Unit for successfully forging his way through her outfit drawer. He's learning.

She had her 2 month birthday yesterday. We celebrated by hanging out with this completely awesome group of Mamas and Papas that I met through prenatal yoga last night. We had a total blast and the Gadlet stayed awake, alert, and completely calm through the whole evening party. She just hung out and watched everyone and everything. She’s completely observant for an infant. She only got a little cranky when I wasn’t holding her – she had an attack of the Mama’s Girl last night -- even Spousal Unit wouldn’t do. (I was secretly a little pleased. Is that sick and wrong?) As a bonus for the evening, everybody loved the hot Crab and Artichoke, the Roasted Red Pepper and White Bean, and the Smoked Sundried Tomato dips that I made.

Plus, in a major developmental milestone, the Gadlet found her fists last night (or was it this morning? It occurred somewhere in between the normal human awake periods when she and I are the only ones in the whole world awake.) I watched as her pacifier fell out (a.k.a. The Baby Crack – you should see the gorked-out face she makes when she gets that thing while screaming. Total drugged-out bliss) and she stuffed her fist into her mouth, lost it as she flailed about, and then deliberately stuck the same fist back into her mouth. Isn’t she a genius? Spousal Unit (who I just called… yes, I’m insane and lurking…) said he swore she just now tried to reach for her feet. So, the Gadlet has discovered that she has limbs. Next thing you know she’ll be rolling over, crawling, walking, driving, and sky-diving.

The other developmental milestone is that she learned to shit this week. I shit you not, it is something that they have to learn. I know this because as an overprotective insane parent I called the pediatrician when it had been 4 days since any poop emerged from this kid. When one goes from what feels like 20 poops a day to none, it can be quite distressing. (As I think it was for her – for two nights running before she shat again she screamed for a couple of hours between 5-7, which was quite uncharacteristic.) Anyway, I called the pediatrician and she said that somewhere around 6-8 weeks of age, the automatic eating-shitting reflex goes away and the baby has to learn how to poop. Apparently all humans are born with this reflex that tells our guts to expel whenever anything is put into them. The Gadlet outgrew her reflex this week and so had to poop of her own volition. Finally, on Friday when I was hanging out with some of my yoga mamas and babies, the Gadlet let one rip. It was very smelly and gross, so I went up to change her. While I was changing her, more poop emerged. And more. And more. I stood there for 20 minutes gagging and holding diapers under her ass as she crapped out 4 days worth of poop. It was quite an adventure. It also made me glad that we’re getting cloth diaper delivery starting tomorrow since I threw away 3 diapers just so she could complete that pooping adventure. (FYI the service diapers are washed in an “eco” process and the delivery truck is run on veggie diesel. Don’t I win the greener-than-thou award?)

Anyway, so this week, my child learned to shit and find her limbs. I know I didn’t learn anything nearly so important this week.

Enough about the Gadlet’s bodily functions -- back to me at the coffee shop. I’ve set myself a goal of finishing the revisions on this chapter by Nov. 15, which seems completely doable. In fact, I only have 27 more pages to dig through. (This is the 2nd round of revising this one…) I’ve managed to work about every other day this week. Mostly thanks to Spousal Unit, who came home from work during the day on Thursday to babysit, and who is hanging out with her now.

When I finish this chapter, I will have to bite the bullet and approach The Advisor – who I haven’t seen since, um, March? Gulp. But, I’ll jump off that bridge when I get there.

I suppose in a weird way, finishing this dissertation will be a lot like learning to shit -- not pleasant, pretty damned uncomfortable, better than the alternative and fundamentally necessary.

Giving it up to the Universe sure does work. For three nights in a row, the Gadlet has slept in her own "big girl" bed (AKA the co-sleeper) for 3-5 hour chunks at a time. Huzzah!

And, in fact, things have been going so well this week while Grandma Unit has been here, Spousal Unit and I had our first post-baby date last Thursday.

It began when I left The Gadlet with her Grandma, and drove to pick up Spousal Unit, totally excited for the romantic date. I had shaved my legs, put on sexy panties, my smallest pre-pregnancy jeans (which fit, miracle of miracles), a cashmere sweater and spiffy knitted scarf. I even blow-dried my hair and styled it. I was feeling pretty hot, and was thinking in the car about how excited Spousal Unit would be to see a facsimile of his former wife when I remembered that I hadn't brushed my teeth. Ew. Then, I started thinking about it and couldn't actually remember when I had last brushed my teeth. I think it might have been days. Double Ew. So much for sexy and attractive. I started looking around, but we didn't even have any mints or gum or anything in the car. Only Taco Bell Hot and Mild Sauce, which I would have gargled, but I figured that probably wouldn't help the situation. There was nothing for it but confession. And somehow, telling Spousal Unit about my unbrushed teeth opened the floodgates of my private world and began an evening of confessions.

Here's how it went:

Hostess at cajun/fish/bbq joint: "Table for Two?"

Stewgad: "YES, because I've left my six week old baby at home without either of her parents for the first time!!!"

Spousal Unit: Rolls eyes and tries to look like he isn't actually with this Crazy Lady.

Hostess: "Um... Ok... Uncomfortable Pause. Right this way?"

We were seated at a nice table by the windows. Then, the waiter came to the table.

Waiter: "I hear this is a special day?" (Clearly the Hostess warned our Waiter that a Crazy Lady had just entered the restaurant.)

Stewgad: "YES, and I'll have a HUGE Maker's Mark Manhattan and a Dozen Raw Oysters, since I can eat them for the first time since last December when I got pregnant and I left my baby at home for the first time and I don't have to breastfeed for a while so I can get totally plastered for the first time in months!!!!"

Waiter: "Um. Ok. Uncomfortable Pause. Well, let me know if there is anything I can do to make the meal more special."

Spousal Unit: Rolls eyes and tries to look like he isn't actually with this Crazy Lady.

I don't know what was wrong with me -- it was like hormonally induced confessional verbal diarrhea. The only thing I didn't tell the waitstaff was what my new and improved giant bra size is and when the last day was that I had to take a stool softener. (Ah, the joys of pregnancy.) I really don't know why I felt the need to inform total strangers about my private life, maybe it is the influence of the blog, but at least I drew the line before I started describing the post-partum Frankenpussy.

Despite the Sudden Over-Sharing Syndrome (a.k.a S.O.S), we had a great dinner. We shared that Huge Manhattan and the Oysters and got a little tipsy from both. Then I had a Crabcake with Sweet Potato Fries and Spousal Unit had Blackened Catfish with Beans and Rice and Brussel Sprouts. It was yummy. And I only worried about the Gadlet a little tiny bit. She had a great time with Grandma Unit, drank a bottle like a champ, and was happily sleeping when we got home.

She's clearly growing up. Soon, she'll be suffering from S.O.S. and confessing to some random waiter her innermost secrets when intoxicated on freedom and hormones and oysters while leaving her baby at home for the first time.

Sometimes things just work better when we let them be. Or perhaps things always work better when we let them be -- when we stop trying to control the whole world and just allow stuff to take care of itself. I've been thinking about this a lot lately since when you have a child there isn't much you can control, and that control gets less and less as their little lives progress. Of course, for those of us who are control freaks, asking us to surrender even the illusion that we're in control is like asking us to just stop digesting, or using our hands, or wearing clothes to church. But, sometimes, occasionally giving it up to the universe pays off in a really tangible way.

Yesterday, WTN's wife (WTNW?) came to my front door -- which has NEVER happened-- and came into my house to tell me that even though they had planted some bushes in the Disputed Property Next to Our House, they wanted me to know that I could still do whatever I wanted to that land and that they didn't want us to feel like we couldn't use it just because they'd put in some plants in over there.

While this still implies that she believes that they own the space and that she is graciously letting us do what we want on our own land, I'm SO OK with it. The evening that I had my Coffee-Shop meltdown when I saw WTN planting, SU and I talked about what was going on with WTN, I realized that I really don't care what they plant or do over there, I mean, they're the ones who have to look at it more frequently. (It's on a side of the house that we never visit, and only have 2 windows on) But, as I told him, I just wished they had talked to us about it.

In the interest of my own sanity, Spousal Unit and I decided that I should surrender my worry about it to the universe and the responsibility for dealing with it over to him. (He then rapidly proceeded to do nothing... but since I had agreed to turn it over to him, I had to keep my big damn trap shut.)

But, back to my good thing -- apparently the universe heard me and sent WTNW over to chat. So, it was good that neither of us went over and got all postal on the neighbors. It all worked out like I wanted it to. Cool, huh?

Now, I need to give the Gadlet's sleeping/eating habits up to the universe. Last night the longest stretch between feedings I got was 2 hours. Usually it was 1.5. I think that waking a prisoner up every 1.5 is prohibited by the Geneva Convention. Apparently, I've got a little Bushie on my hands who thinks the Geneva Convention doesn't apply to her. Add to this, despite 2 nights running of sleeping in her own co-sleeper next to the bed, last night she was having none of it and so grunted and wiggled her way through the night sleeping in my armpit. This did not make for good sleep in the 1.5 hours I did manage to get before feedings. This morning, I'm drained. Literaly and figuratively. I told the Gadlet at the 7:00 a.m. feeding that I was just about ready sell her to the gypsies. But apparently her father (who totally slept through this whole drama, dammit) seems to like her and wants to keep her, so she's safe for now.

I've abandoned my daughter to her father's care. Granted, when I left her she was sleeping happily on his chest, and he seems perfectly capable of handling anything she might need. Plus, there’s even a bottle full of milk waiting in the fridge that I squeezed from my own tit (which I find to be a mesmerizing process. I mean, there is MILK coming out of my body. A lot of milk. How weird is that? It’s juice squeezed from a human - from me. Wild.) And, granted I am a whole 10 blocks away at the coffee shop with the cell phone at the ready and the car parked in front so I can make a quick getaway if I need to. Yipee? Nope. I’m totally teary. Fucking hormones.

So, am I weepy because I’m leaving my daughter for the first time for longer than 10 or 15 minutes?

Or am I weepy because as I pulled out of my driveway, I caught my White Trash Neighbor, (hereafter WTN – and while I fully acknowledge the racist and classist dimension of the term, I feel that when you have not one, but 2 non-functioning vehicles rusting in your driveway and not one but 2 major appliances rusting in the yard, and a dog that tries to kill your neighbors through the fence every time they walk into their own yards that one fully lives up to the designation) who is passionately and irrationally persuaded that the foot of space between our house and his driveway belongs to him because in antiquity sometime one of his fucking relatives had a fence on that strip of stupid ass grass despite the multiple surveys and city records that indicate he does not actually own every inch of the land up to the very fucking edge of our house, planting a YEW bush on my property. I fucking hate yews. They look nice for a year or so and then they get all weedy and threadbare. I fucking hate WTN. I’ve been worrying about this for a while now because in the last couple of weeks they tore up all of the grass over there and put in mulch, which to their credit looked a lot better than the weedy-ass grass that nobody every cared for and was a continuation of the mulch I put in on my side of the yard. But I took it as a sign that they’re moving in on the space thinking that we’ve neglected it for a few years. I’ve found myself obsessing about this late at night and trying to hand it over to the Big Universal Wow for he/she/it/they to take care of instead of me. But, planting something implies a firmer degree of ownership in some way, don’t you think? Anyway, I think it made me weepy even though I called Spousal Unit and asked him to take a little walk with the Gadlet (whose presence should be soothing to both SU and WTN – I mean, who can have a knock-down drag-out fight with a neighbor with a baby?) and check the situation out. Anyway, I’m a little bit freaked about it.

Or maybe I’m weepy because I had to ask a woman who was hogging 2 whole tables in this very small space if she could share one of her two tables and she was less than kind about it. Doesn’t she know that I’m leaving my baby for the first time and that my neighbor might possibly be planting a yew tree in my yard and my husband might attempt to kill him over it?

Or MAYBE, just MAYBE I’m weepy and panicked because I’m returning to my dissertation after 2-ish months of being completely away from it and 6-ish months from being mostly away from it. What if it is all crap? What if I can’t do it? What if I’m a better mother than I am dissertator? What if I lose my job? What if I don’t even actually care if I lose my job because I so much prefer being a mother?

But this doesn’t seem very productive or conducive to actually working in the very short time I have to work. So for now, I’m going to swallow the weepies, know that the Gadlet is OK** with Spousal Unit, let the universe (or SU) take care of WTN, and know that I can do this dissertation thing. I mean, hell, if I can not only squeeze a human out of my own body, but also the juice to feed that human, surely I can do anything, right?

(Ha! As I wrote this, a Very Famous Song by a Much Beloved 60s Band whose refrain very prominently features the Gadlet’s first name is being played over the coffee shop stereo. So much for attempting to forget her and do my work!)

[Update: I spent 2 productive hours away at the Coffee Shop. (Well, one productive hour and one emotionally charged hour, anyway.) I revised the introductory section to the chapter I’d been working on when last I was in dissertation land. Not a huge chunk of pages (only 6) and I was really only working with prose, not with major ideas – but I did accomplish a major stylistic shift from a really passive depiction of what was going on to a more active one that centers the historical figures in the sentences. And, I only looked at photos of the Gadlet on my iPod once and didn’t worry about WTN at all. So, good for me, huh?

I'm about to leave, but called home first -- Spousal Unit did not answer. I'm fighting visions of him neck-deep in Gadlet shit attempting to clean her up, or of her screaming so hysterically that he can't hear the phone. Or, worse yet, of her cuddled in his dead arms as he's splayed on the stupid fucking foot of land that WTN thinks he owns as WTN stands over him with a shotgun and as their evil dog nibbles on his toes and makes hungry eyes at the Gadlet. Oh shit, I must leave this instant!! Panic!!!!

Update #2: Nobody died. Phew. Spousal Unit didn't answer the phone because he was feeding the Gadlet the bottle I left. I got all weepy AGAIN when I came home. Fucking hormones.

Update #3: WTN DID plant a shrub on our property. Fuck fuck fuck. Spousal Unit says he'll handle it. So, I'm going to keep my sticky little worried paws off of that one. Fucking hormones.


Since I signed up for a gift from Overread, I promised to make the same offer here.

To the first 5 commenters, I'll send some sort of tangible, physical gift before the end of this calendar year. It might be something arty, or foodie, or smarty. Hope you all are interested!

Pretty Cool, Huh?

The Gadlet is learning to smile when I talk to her. And grunt when she's hungry. She's like a little grinning bald piglet.

She's sleeping right now and I'm hoping to get some diss work done. Wish me luck!

The Bath

My first mistake was to shower first.

I thought that while Spousal Unit was late for work anyway, he could watch the Gadlet long enough for me to at least wash my ass. I could tell he was a little resentful that I asked him for this, since he was already late, but I think he could sense the desperation in my voice so graciously agreed. I got enough time to wash and to put on a bra and underwear, but decided against other clothes so that I wouldn't overheat in the bathroom for the next step.

After I showered, I turned on the space heater in the bathroom, and undressed the Gadlet. Second mistake. I thought maybe her little hiney would like some air time for a few minutes while I got out her bathing equipment. So, she lay on a diaper and a towel on the floor while I got out the giant baby-shaped sponge that sits inside the bathtub, her little baby bathtub, a baby towel, a washcloth, a little bottle for pouring water, and the Insanely Expensive Organic Natural Unscented Special Baby Soap in a Bottle.

With the tub filled with nicely warm water, and everything all set for her bath, I picked her up to shift her from the bathroom floor to the bathtub, and she peed all over me. So much for ME being clean. Oh well, I thought, at least one of us will be clean today. I plunked her in the bath and wiped myself off with the diaper that she had been laying on. Then I wiped up the pee from off of the floor so that I wouldn't be standing in pee while I washed her.

This done, I start to clean the baby. I scrubbed away, washing all of her parts in order (cleanest to dirtiest), and being sure to dribble water in her face so that she will be used to it and not be afraid to put her face in the swimming pool when she starts lessons in 5 years. I soaped everything up, then rinsed her off, and as I turn to grab the towel to take her out of the tub, I saw a strange greenish-yellow tinge appear in the water -- and for a second I didn't know what it was or what was going on. I was confused. Then I realized it -- she was shitting. Into the clean bathwater. Which surrounded her completely. After I just finished cleaning her. And suddenly there was shit everywhere. Between her toes, all over her legs, all over the baby-shaped bath sponge, and of course, floating in the bathwater.

I grabbed her and moved her to higher ground in the tub - well away from the water and the shit. And then I just stood there totally kerflummoxed. How do you clean a baby when the equipment for cleaning her is full of poop, and therefore, unclean?

Meanwhile, disturbed by the state of events, as well as by my awkward one-handed grip on one of her underarms (trying to keep away from the shit myself), the Gadlet starts howling. Shrieking. Screaming.

As best I could, I ran the water in the sink that was awkwardly situated behind the baby tub and used that water and the washcloth to remove the shit from her as she howled. Then, I put her back down on the towel to continue the deshitification, which she did not like one bit. More screaming. At a higher pitch and intensity.

Finally satisfied that my baby was clean enough that she wouldn't get the cholera from touching her legs and then putting her hands in her mouth, I picked her up, sat on the toilet and tried to calm her with the boob, which she likes very much. She nursed for a few moments and relaxed. Good, I thought. I have a naked baby to dress and a tub full of shit to deal with, but other than that, things are good. (I'd given up on cleaning the baby pee off of myself.) The screaming had stopped, life seemed back on track. Just when I thought that, she pulled off of the breast and spit up a copious amount - like gallons - all over me, herself, her towel, and the bathroom floor.

So there we were, both of us in varying states of nudity, both of us covered in baby yak, sitting next to a tub of shit and a floor nicely decorated with pee and vomit. At which point I just started to laugh. Clearly, some form of her bodily fluid was going to cover her today no matter what I did.

It seemed quite plain that Fate had determined that Cleanliness is not next to Gadletness.

(Continued from Part 1)

With The Great Fainting Crisis behind us, Spousal Unit and I determined that the contractions were 2-3 minutes apart, which seemed pretty darn serious to us. Especially since we had been told to call the doctors when they were 5 minutes apart. So, we called. On the phone, the doctor told us to definitely come to the hospital. After this, we called our doula C, and told her to meet us there. At the hospital, they first made me do some paperwork (which was stupid because I had sent it all in the previous week.) but finally I was wheeled me up to the maternity ward, which seemed a little more hectic than it was when we were there for our tour the week before. It turns out, there were 14 other women in labor that night, including 3 emergency C-sections. This for a hospital that averages 2 births a day. It was more than a bit nuts. But, ultimately, it was pretty great, because it meant that the medical folk pretty much left us alone because mine was about the easiest birth happening that day. Nobody kept sticking their heads in to pester us about drugs or monitoring or anything.

One of the harried nurses checked us into the birthing room, which was pretty much a nice room with a lovely view of the woods and hills and lakes (although I couldn’t see those yet because it was 3:00 a.m.). I put on my Unit Family Reunion Tee-shirt (we have about a million of them left over so I figured if this one got gross, it was no big loss. Plus, it was blue. As you know, I firmly believe that all things should be blue.) Then, I got onto the "bed" (a fancy bed-like contraption that has handy holding onto bars for gripping, a nicely hidden set of stirrups, and a secret bio-hazard bag to catch all the ucky stuff that can be revealed at a critical moment when ucky stuff emerges.) I hung out there for a while, trying to breathe through the contractions like the hypnobirthing playlist had told me to. The breathing wasn’t really a problem, I was pretty good at that. What surprised me, though, was the moaning. For some reason, I just needed to moan. I always had great scorn for the women on TV who scream and moan through labor. How fake, I thought. Such Hollywood hysterics must have just been for dramatic effect, and so completely manufactured and false. Well, apparently, I was bucking for a part on some dumb sitcom where childbirth is both a ploy to resuscitate bad ratings and a tired comic foil, because I was a moaner. Each contraction required some heavy-duty Ooh-ing and Aahh-ing.

After a while of this, I was really wishing for my iPod, if for nothing else than to drown out my own damned moaning. Fortunately, Spousal Unit had brought his, so he hooked me up with Patrick O'Brian Which did pretty much the same thing as Hypnobirthing because I often listen to that before bed as well. So, the nice voice of Patrick Tull discussing rigging of the mainsails and midshipmen crawling through the lubber’s hole helped calm me down and distract me from the pain. Our doula later said that I had to be the only person she had ever encountered who had listened to an account of the historical British Royal Navy to relax while giving birth. It did lend a slight nautical air to the whole proceeding. Which led us to the Tub.

At this point in the labor, the sun had come up, it was morning, and I'd been at it at the hospital for at least 5 hours. The weird thing was that my legs were shaking so badly, SU and C had to take turns holding onto them to keep them still. So, C suggested she see if The Tub was available because she thought the warm water might help calm my shakes, as well has help labor progress. The Tub was the way the Hospital could market itself as supporting hippy-dippy birthing experiences. It was a very nice jacuzzi tub that they showed everybody on the tour as if to say, "See, we aren't REALLY a scary medical facility, but just a cleaner and more posh substitute for your bathtub at home!" But, the trick to The Tub was there was only one of them. So, you had to get it on a first-come-first-serve basis. Apparently, they didn't want a WWW-Smackdown between laboring women in the hallway outside of the tub fighting over who needed the jacuzzi more in their critical moments of labor...

I thought for sure that with 14 other women there it would be completely occupied. But, nope. The Tub was empty – and all mine! Whopee! So, we wheeled me down the hallway and I stripped and got into The Tub. It was heavenly. Definitely more posh than my filthy, ancient cast-iron tub at home. It was so warm, and so relaxing for a few minutes I forgot why I was there. Then, ouch, contraction. Right, that's what was happening -- I was in LABOR. As I hung out in The Tub, the contractions started to get much more intense, and SU and C took turns pouring warm water over my belly when they happened, and giving me ice chips and cold washcloths after they were over. SU took the chance at this point to go get a little breakfast. (He has since been touting the Hospital cafeteria as the best place in town for breakfast. I don't know if it was the actual quality of the toast, eggs and bacon that he got or the $1.50 price tag that turned him on so much, but so far I've resisted taking a special trip to the Hospital just for breakfast, as he keeps urging.)

After about an hour or so in The Tub, the contractions became so intense I decided I needed to get out. Back to the birthing room we went, where I proceeded to yak. Appropriate, really, since I was sick the whole pregnancy. The good thing was I had brought my own bucket to yak into. A few weeks before, I was expressing anxiety to C about having to have great aim at this moment of severe crisis while birthing. I mean, have you seen the size of those little tiny bedpan/barf catcher kidney-shaped thingeys at the hospital? They're like 2 inches long and an inch wide. You must be a seriously precise puker to manage to hit those things. For some reason, before labor I was really obsessed about having to have such great aim with my vomit, which I knew I would not have and so would wind up upchucking onto the floor or bed or Spousal Unit. To solve this problem, C had suggested that I bring my own bucket to the hospital so that I could stop worrying about where I was going to puke. Fortunately, I took this advice. So, when I felt the barf a-coming, I just said "Bucket!" and Spousal Unit grabbed our nice white plastic Berry Farm bucket that we purchased the last time we went berry-picking and I puked into that. It was a nice good size for catching the puke, no aim needed. The only downside? I'm not sure I'll ever use it for picking berries again.

Fairly soon after this puking episode, I decided I needed the Drugs. Things were getting pretty intense (read PAINFUL), and I figured I had quite a while yet to go. I mean, first labors are long, right? It was about 9 am and I figured I had the whole rest of the day and night to go. Especially since my water hadn't broke yet. I was pretty sure I couldn't handle the level of pain I was in for another 10 or 12 hours. Spousal Unit, in his drive to get us a natural childbirth, sneaky bastard, asked if I could handle 10 more contractions. I decided that I could, so we worked on counting those down, saying goodbye to each contraction as they passed, glad never to have to do That Exact Contraction ever again. After those 10 went by, we sent for the doctor. Of course, by the time the doctor appeared about another 15 contractions had gone by. I was pretty anxious and in inreasing pain. To ease this, we thought we'd try a different position to labor in -- I had been pretty comfortable on my back in the bed. But, we thought maybe a different position would help. Oho, how wrong we were. I tried Child's Pose from yoga, where basically, you get on your hands and knees with your ass in the air. This was fun for me at this moment because I was totally and completely naked (somewhere along the way that I can’t remember, I lost both the Unit Family Reunion tee-shirt and the hospital gown.) So, there I was, mooning the ceiling when the next contraction hit. It was the most incredible awful pain I had ever experienced in my whole life. I thought I was being ripped in two. I started to scream. And Scream and Scream. I couldn't stop screaming until the contraction was over. It was beyond horrible. So, not a good position, Child's Pose.

At this auspicious moment, the Doctor came in and started poking around to see how things were going down there and to see if I was progressing enough to get the drugs. Not good timing. But, she didn't seem phased at all that her first introduction to me was to my hind end, or that I was screaming like a banshee. I suppose if you're an OB both are par for the course. Anyway, as she looked up in there, my water broke. At which point, the doctor said, "Well, you could have an intrathecal (a short-duration epidural), but really, Stewgad, you're 9+ centimeters dilated and fully effaced. It's time to start pushing. Do you feel like pushing?"

I thought about this for a moment and quickly decided that I had never felt like doing anything less in my whole entire life. Nope. No way, No How. Oh, how I did NOT feel like pushing. I knew what would happen if I did, and it didn't sound any more appealing in that moment between intensely painful contractions (still scream-inducing despite the return to my back) than it had for the entire 10 months before that moment. But, everyone else in the room seemed to think it was the thing to do and they were so earnest about encouraging me to do it. Plus, C told me I had to in a very stern voice. So, when the next contraction rolled around, I pushed. And screamed my fucking head off. I could push 3 times per contraction, but the doctor seemed to want four pushes per contraction. This made me a bit resentful, but since I was kind of in the middle of something at the moment, I couldn't really tell her how I was feeling. Especially because she wasn't actually my doctor. Which is funny because I secretly really wanted my doctor to be a woman, but I didn't like the practice that she worked for. (there are only 3 OB practices in town.) So, for 9+ months, I saw my male doctor and kinda sorta hoped that when the time came, he wouldn't be around and I'd get to have a woman. So, despite the fact that I wanted to tell her that she could take that last 4th push that she seemed to want so badly the next time I had a contraction and put it into HER hind end, I thought better of it since I was really glad she was there.

Fortunately, I got a bit of a break between contractions at this point. They were coming with great regularity every 3 minutes, and every 4th contraction was kind of a faker, less intense and less push-worthy. But when the real ones came around, I'd launch back into my screaming and pushing. I did wonder if I was terrifying all the other poor women on the floor with my screams, and in the break period between contractions I would think rationally that I probably shouldn't be screaming so loudly. But, then another contraction would hit and I'd be back at it, shrieking at the top of my lungs. I swear, I couldn’t help it and I needed to do it. And to do it loudly. It was very primal.

By this time, I could feel the baby moving down into what is euphemistically called "the birth canal," but which was really my vagina. I could also feel it getting kind of sucked back up at the end of the contraction. And then, I had a bit of a miracle. In the midst of the blinding pain and heinously loud screams (could someone please tell that crazy woman to shut up?) I had a memory -- a brain wave -- a brilliant thought. A few weeks before, my friend M, who had had 2 kids, told me that when the baby was moving down and you were pushing, that you should engage your muscles a little bit in between contractions to keep the baby in place, so that you don't have to push it out the whole way every time. I couldn't really believe that I remembered that critical piece of information at the exact right moment, but I did. So, the next contraction that came around I did what she had suggested, and kind of held the baby in place. It was weird, but after that, the doctor was really encouraging, and said just a few more should do it. She asked if I wanted to feel the baby's head - and I did, but didn't really think much of it – kind of hard and firm, and in the way of my getting out of pain. I don't know, maybe I was too out of it to appreciate that a human head was coming out of my yoohoo.

As I re-read this last paragraph, it seems as if I was alone in this. Of course, I wasn't. Spousal Unit was holding onto my right leg and C was holding on to my left one, but it really was kind of an internal, alone type process. I mean, I was the only one pushing. And the only one screaming for that matter. I think that SU and Christine were both saying nice, encouraging stuff, but I don’t really remember.

Anyway, the doctor was right. When each contraction ended and I stopped the screaming, I held on a bit with my muscles, and I could feel the baby moving farther out as I pushed. At which point I experienced what the books call "a ring of fire." Which is essentially when the baby's head rips you open because it is too big for your coochie. I think I said something like, "ring of fire, my ass!!" Which got everybody chuckling. I think what I meant was "fire? VOLCANO is more like it. MAGMA, or something even more dramatic and hot and horrible than fire. But, the next contraction hit and I pushed like a motherfucker right through that MAGMA of pain and burning and tearing and then the head came out. Oh, my god, did that hurt. And then the rest of the baby’s body just slipped out, and instantly I felt more relieved than I have ever felt in my whole entire life. It was over. That thing I had been dreading my whole life, the thing I was so afraid of, and the thing that I wasn't sure I could survive -- childbirth -- was over. I was done. It was heavenly.

AND, to boot, I got this beautiful baby. Between emerging from my vagina and getting as far as my belly button, she started screaming on her own. She was kind of blue-ish, and had some gunk on her head and body, but by the time she got to rest on my breast, she calmed down. I said, "Hi Gadlet, I'm your Mama," while Spousal Unit cut her cord. She was the most beautiful thing we had ever seen. Well, OK, maybe she did look a bit like my 60-year-old Dad, and maybe she did poop some black tarry gunk onto me while she was hanging out on my chest, and she was kind of scrawny, but she had these big, bright eyes and pouty little Angelina Jolie lips. Spousal Unit cried, but I was too distracted by the doctor, who wouldn't leave me alone yet. There was the whole placenta thing to expel, and may I say, ew. Slimy. And then she had to stitch me up. There were “second degree lacerations,” which I think sound worse than it was, but still sounds pretty bad. I managed not to scream through this part of it, but it was only because I was holding the Gadlet and I didn't want to scare her. And, besides, my throat was so sore and raw from the earlier screaming, I didn't have much voice left. (FYI, I still haven't checked things out down there too carefully. I'm just too terrified. I'm desperately afraid of finding that I’ve now got a Frankenpussy. {Thanks to Nadine for the term, which is too freaking funny given the patched-up and stitched up state of my poor vagina!}) Anyway, enough about my private parts.

Back to the baby. They let me hold her for about 45 minutes or an hour and then they started the process of cleaning her up, etc. Oh, yeah, and then they let Spousal Unit hold her. He and the nurse put her under his shirt so she could have skin-to-skin contact with him too. He was so moved. It was very sweet.

The great thing about a natural childbirth, planned or not, is that everyone thinks you're a hero -- starting with the doctor. She and the nurses were both just raving about how great I was at giving birth, and how wonderful it was to see both me and the Gadlet so alert and awake, since most of the moms and babies she sees are tranked up and groggy. So, I totally felt like the biggest Bad-Ass ever for having done it drug-free. I was totally high on the praise and felt gorgeous and powerful and insanely perfect even though I smelled like raw meat and looked like hell.

The doctor also said that I should be careful, because my next baby (HA!) will probably be born in the elevator, this labor was so fast. Start to finish it was 10.5 hours. Far less time than I had feared. Far less time than I thought was even possible for a first birth.

If I had been really and truly honest with those crazy people who had asked me what kind of birth I wanted, I probably would have said this: I want a short labor, with contractions that let me rest between them. I want some time in the bathtub because water is soothing to me. I’d like to feel safe and secure and I’d like to feel like I could handle what was happening to me. I’d like a woman doctor, and a supportive hospital that didn’t push the drugs if I didn’t want them. I’d like a natural childbirth if I can do it, and I’d like to not be too damaged afterwards to enjoy the baby and Spousal Unit as we start our new family. If I had been really honest, I would have confessed my deep secret desire to have a girl, and owned up to a petty wish that she not be too ugly or covered with funky birthmarks. Oh, and, I would have told them that I’d like that little girl to be born on 09-08-07 because it would be the coolest birthday ever.

I know in a deep and fundamental way that all children are miracles – and that is certainly true of the Gadlet – I mean, heck, I cooked her up inside my very own body and then used that body to get her out into the world. And now she does things like coo and pee and notice stuff and nurse. Even if she’s now going bald and has acne and so looks like a strange hybrid 85-year-old teenager, she’s absolutely miraculous. But, I’m not talking about the baby here as the miracle. That her birth was precisely what I would have asked for, even down to the smallest detail, if someone let me order up a birth experience on a platter (that is if I couldn't have the Star Trek Beam-It-Out Birth), well, that seems pretty damned miraculous to me.

There are certain moments in life that strip away all one's pretenses and self-delusions and leave behind the primal essence of the Self. Childbirth is certainly one of them. And, as it turns out, my primal essence Self is a Screamer. Spousal Unit's is a Fainter. But, I'm giving away the ending before I start. So, let me start at the beginning.

Roughly 10 months ago, Spousal Unit and I got busy one great night and I woke up pregnant. Of course I didn't know it yet, but there it was. A little thingey working away at dividing and making itself into a human. A few weeks later, I peed on a little white stick and two pink lines appeared, informing me of this state of things. Immediately, I had to go and have my blood drawn at 24 hour intervals to determine if everything was all good in there with the little thingey. (A previous ectopic pregnancy made this stage critical.) On New Year's Eve 2007, the doctor called and told us that the blood work was great. The Gadlet was a very successful little embryo. It was pretty much the best way to start a year ever.

And then came the pregnancy. I was sick. Sick, sick, sick. A lot. All of the time, in fact. For about 2/3rds of the pregnancy I could pretty much eat only one thing at a time. One week it was Goldfish crackers. One week it was Wheat Thins. Then I did a couple of weeks of Red Jello (I didn't care about the flavor as long as it was red.) Soon after that came the two or three weeks of green apples. Add to this all of the puking, and I was pretty much growing increasingly angry with the little parasite that was colonizing my body and making it very very unhappy. Then the nice doctors gave me drugs to make the puking go away and things got much better. (I would joke with Spousal Unit that the Gadlet's middle name should be "Zofran" after this wonderful miracle pill that got me through the end of the pregnancy.)

All in all, by the time the official due date rolled around on Friday, September 7, I was feeling pretty good, if increasingly tired and unwieldy. Oh, yeah, and scared shitless. But, there was no easy way out by that point, so I was working on getting away from scared and toward resigned. This project was not helped by the fact that at this point in the pregnancy, people started asking me "What kind of birth do you want?" Well, hell if I know! I've never done it before, how can I know what I want? I think that what I wanted, was, um, a birth. Beyond that, I just wanted to survive. I was pretty sure I would not make it through the whole thing alive, because, I mean, how could you? How could you extrude a whole human being and survive the process? Didn't seem very likely to me, global statistics be damned. So, my answer to this question was usually, "a healthy baby." I'm sure what they wanted to know was did I want a natural home childbirth complete with hairy armpits and crunchy granola for breakfast, or a water birth where the Gadlet and I engaged in an elaborate dance of synchronized swimming as soon as she was born, or a hospital sanitized medical birth where I was tranked to the gills and strapped to a table and sliced open lengthwise. Since none of those choices sounded good to me, I decided that I didn't care exactly how it happened, so long as it happened and that the Gadlet and I both walked out of the hospital alive and (mostly) intact. (Although, as it turns out, we got driven in a wheelchair so neither of us actually walked.) OK, so I lie a little. The one thing I didn't want was to go into labor, spend 48 hours in labor and then have a C-section. That would be the suckiest kind of birth, I think, because you have all of the pain and misery of labor and none of the convenience of a scheduled C-section. But, really, I just tried to be open to whatever had to happen and to try to appreciate the end of the pregnancy without having expectations or panic attacks.

Toward that end, when I got up the morning of my due date, I thought, "Hey, I should take a picture of my belly so that I have a record of what I looked like pregnant on my due date." In the back of my mind I was thinking that I had another couple of weeks to go so that I should be able to compare this pictures to how huge I would ultimately become. So, I took one photo and it was blurry. So, I took another. Black screen. "Hm. That's odd," said I. I took a few more pictures. All black. I flipped over to the photo view. Black, black, and more black. I replaced the batteries. Took out the memory card, replaced it. Still, black screen, totally black photos. Bad news for the digital camera. I looked it up on the internet, and it turned out to be a known problem with the model camera we have. Canon would fix it, but we'd have to send it to them. "Oh well," I thought, "tomorrow is Saturday and Spousal Unit and I can go to Best Buy and get another camera tomorrow so that we'll have one for the birth."

By the time I had finished battle with the camera, it was time to go to the doctor. (See this post for the details.) Then, I hung out with a new pregnant friend for a while at her house because she had central air and it was about 900 degrees out. We had met at the Co-op and bought lunch. I got spicy peanut noodles and a bar of Dagoba chocolate with chili pepper. I thought it was a little odd that I was craving spicy food since I hadn't been interested in it for the whole pregnancy, but I didn't really give it that much thought. Then, that night Spousal Unit and our two best friends took me out to our favorite Tapas place for dinner to celebrate the due date. I had spicy chipotle potatoes and drank some of SU's red wine, because, heck, it was my due date. Our waiter (a longtime familiar guy) comped us our bar bill, I think because I told him it was my due date and he was terrified that I'd drop the baby right there in the restaurant so he wanted to hurry us out of there!

When we got home, I hugged Spousal Unit good night and asked him if he would cut my toenails the next day because I couldn't bend over enough to reach them and I was getting desperate. The good man promised he would and kissed me good night. When I got into bed, I got out my iPod and tried to listen to my Hypnobirthing playlist. It was to help me practice relaxing, and then in the birth, I'd listen to the same playlist and remember how relaxed I was at home in bed and therefore not be in pain during labor. Yes, this was a little bit of a pipe dream, but it was part of my "accept the inevitable" plan of childbirth. Practice relaxing while thinking about childbirth was definitely a good thing for me at that stage. Anyway, so I got out my trusty old iPod, tapped the menu button, the thing jumped halfway between one menu and another and then froze. I tried everything I could think of doing to the thing (that didn't involve getting out of bed) to no avail. Dead iPod. "Oh well," I thought, "Tomorrow is Saturday, I'll reboot and reinitialize the thing tomorrow."

It did strike me as a little disturbing and more than a little ironic that both of the major bits of electronica that I knew I would need during labor crapped out on my due date, but by this point in the evening, I was so tired, I didn't really stress about it. I figured I had plenty of time to remedy both the digital camera and the iPod situation. I was wrong.

At about 12:30 I woke up having some cramps, fairly well contained in my lower belly. I thought, "Aha! False labor." All of the books said that false labor felt like menstrual cramps and that "real" contractions would involve your back and upper belly. Yeah, ok. So, I got up, went to the bathroom and sat on the toilet for a while. (Where else do you sit when you hang out in the bathroom?) After about an hour, I realized that these "false" contractions were increasing in intensity (read pain) and were getting (quite) a bit closer together. Thinking maybe I should have some company in this process, I went back to the bedroom and woke up Spousal Unit. "Honey," I said, "I think I'm in labor. I think we need to start timing contractions." He said groggily that he'd find his watch and be right there. So, I went back to the bathroom.

A few moments later, SU barges through the door, and says "Get off the toilet! Get off! I'm going to barf!!!" So, I sprung up and hightailed it out of the bathroom and went back to the bedroom. After a few minutes and hearing nothing from him, not even giant heaving sounds (SU is not a quiet, dainty puker. But then, who is, really?) I thought maybe I should check and see how he was doing. Not well, it turned out. I opened the door to the bathroom, and there was SU, splayed out in an ever so slight bit of a faint, as green as that gunk they used to pour on people on Nickelodeon back in the early days of cable. He was actually still conscious, but just barely. I've never seen him looking so completely awful.

So there I was, standing there in our bathroom, legs splayed, leaning over the sink for support, pretty sure I was in Actual Labor, rather than False Labor, wondering how in the hell I was going to get Spousal Unit out of his pajamas, into some clothes, into the car, and to the hospital without actually giving birth in the Subaru as I drove us both there. It was a Daunting Prospect. Particularly considering the fact that I couldn't actually bend over, so picking him up off of the floor to start with was pretty much an impossible task.

Thankfully, we avoided this disturbing eventuality and fairly soon, Spousal Unit managed to murmur a bit and to regain some of his normal flesh-colored color as well as a degree of consciousness. A few minutes later he was timing contractions and phoning the doctor like an old pro, completely back to normal. [As he puts it when he tells folk the story, "At the greatest moment of my whole life, I looked fear in the eye and ... crumpled like a leaf." He then strongly suggests to the listener that the next time they have a crisis, they'd do well to call me instead of him.]

(To Be Continued in the Next Post...)

And to keep you engaged here's a photo I like to call, "Ode to Stripes."

The Gadlet

Look what I made!

I'm working on a birth story post, but barely get any 2-handed time right now. The Gadlet likes to be held, so I comply. When she's not being held, I'm sleeping. Par for the new parent course, really. But, in the meantime, I see no reason to deprive you all of a photo. This one was taken at the hospital 9 days ago. Enjoy.

It's a Girl!

The Gadlet has arrived!

on 09-08-07 at 11:08 am, weighing in at 6 lbs and 13 oz.

After a 10 1/2 hour drug-free labor. Yep. You heard me. Drug Free.

Stewgad, Spousal Unit, and The Gadlet are all doing fine and are going to take an early departure from the hospital today so that they can sleep tonight without the distractions of a medical environment.

Full Gory Details (and yes, they are a bit gory) and some nicely anonymous infant photos to come.

Due Date

Nothing much happening on this Auspicious Estimated Delivery Date. But, I did go to the doctor today and he determined in the least pleasant way possible ("You might feel some pressure." Pressure, yeah. Right.) that I'm 2 cm dialated and 50% effaced.

Of course, those numbers mean pretty much Absoutely Nothing in the world of labor and delivery.

Still, it is a sign that there are Things Happening down there since last week the numbers were 0.

So, it could be any time. It could be in 2 weeks.

Just thought you all might want to know.

(Oh, and in celebration of the Due Date, Spousal Unit is taking me to my favorite tapas restaurant for dinner. Yippee!)

Racing Stripes

As those of you faithful readers know, this hasn't been a fun pregnancy. I've been sick for most of it, exhausted for all of it, and peevish and whiny for a good 2/3rds of it.

But, I did have one little ray of hope that I had held onto this whole time.

I didn't have stretch marks.

None. All I had was a beautiful, nice smooth belly -- with no Racing Stripes. Just my normal green-white skin. A lot bigger, to be sure, but still my skin. (An aside --it really is so white it's green. I do not tan. At all. Even in 1985 when I lay around in the weeds of my back yard in 90 degree heat slathered in baby oil in a desperate attempt to fit in with the in-crowd who spent their summers playing tennis and sipping Diet Cokes by the pool at the Country Club to which we did not belong. Nope, giant case of sunburn and a slight case of heatstroke was all I got out of that one.)

Anyway, back to the real story. Last night I was lying on the couch, hot as hell, so I hiked up my shirt over my belly (which you would do too if you were incubating another human. Key word here INCUBATE.) Spousal Unit looks over and says, "What's that, honey? Do you have a rash?" After a bit of contortionist stretching and a lot of groaning, I was able to get a closer look and fuck me if there weren't these chicken scratch looking big-ass red lines directly underneath my belly button. It kind of looks like a red tattoo of a trident.

Well, hell. There goes that one thing I was clinging to. Now, I guess the only thing I've got to be thankful for is that my belly button hasn't popped out like the built-in turkey timer. Luckily, I'm still a nice little innie.

**** We Interrupt this PERFECTLY good Stewgad Rant for a Message from Spousal Unit******

After I read this post to him to display my witty cleverness in the face of Vast Adversity, Spousal Unit, clearly unimpressed, reminded me with a completely straight face and deadpan manner that all indications point to the fact that we have a very healthy baby and a totally normal pregnancy and that therefore I have much to be thankful for about this pregnancy and strongly implied that stretch marks are a small price to pay for a healthy Gadlet.

******Now back to our regularly scheduled Griping ******

Oho! Big Mistake, Spousal Unit, big mistake. Word of advice for you guys out there. Do not, ever, ever tell a grumpy, tired, hot and hungry woman who is 2 days away from her due date and staring down the barrel of a 2-3 day process that involves EXTRUDING A WHOLE HUMAN BEING THROUGH HER VAGINA that ANYTHING she is experiencing is trivial compared to the joy that a healthy new baby will bring. I don't care how minimal those symptoms are. If she gripes that she has a hangnail and that that hangnail is making her miserable, you just commiserate and sympathize and offer to fetch the nail scissors and gently trim it for her. And if you can't find those nail scissors, you get down on your knees and trim that little fucking hangnail with your TEETH. Sheesh.

IF, however, you DO make such a blunder with your VERY PREGNANT partner/wife/lover/girlfriend there is only one clear fix for the situation. Run as fast as you can --do not walk because she might go into labor while you're gone -- to the Apple Store for one of these. Yes, I'm here to tell you, that even Very Pregnant Women can be bought, regardless of how many new Racing Stripes they're bemoaning.


On Thursday night, I woke up at 4:00 a.m. with cramps? contractions? so intense it made me nauseous. After I got done panicking, I thought, OK, maybe this is it! I lay there and tried to breathe through the bad feelings while I thought hard about how I was not going to barf and tried to decide whether or not I should wake up Spousal Unit. After a few minutes of the deep breathing, I fell back asleep. I woke up the next day feeling awful and exhausted. So, I spent Friday on the couch. Waiting for Something to Happen. Anything, really. Nothing did.

By the end of the day, I was totally pissed at myself for wasting the day, completely freaked out about childbirth, and so unreasonably lonely that by the time Spousal Unit came home from work (later than he said he would), I was primed for a major meltdown. I sobbed and sobbed. Plus, I got all clingy -- like a toddler with stranger danger. The sobbing has stopped, but the clinging has persisted the last few days. I don't want Spousal Unit to leave me at any point right now and I keep wanting to be assured that he'll be there "on the big day." Very strange. I like to think of myself as a tough, independent person who got over the co-dependent relationship phase once she left her teens. And normally I'm not that much of a weeper. But today I was reading one of my oh so many pregnancy books and it said that many women in the 9th+ month get needy and weepy -- hormones and all that. So, I do feel a little better about my desire to wrap myself around Spousal Unit's leg and not ever let go. (I have a very funny vision of him dragging my big-ass pregnant self along as he works on equipment at the Big Sciency Thingey and his co-workers look on in horror.) Oh, and FYI - he's been a prince the last couple of days, doing everything and anything he can to make me happy and secure. It is lovely and sweet and reaffirms what a great guy he is.

But, this waiting thing is hard. Mainly because of the part where you don't know what is going to happen and when. I'm not very good at either being patient or at letting go of control of things, both of which are essential when you are very pregnant and have a little less than a week to go until your due date. Yes, I know, due dates mean absolutely squat in this business. 7 of 10 babies arrive after their due dates, so it's not like there is a schedule or anything. But, it is precisely that that is driving me bonkers. I mean, couldn't the Gadlet send me a little email or text message or at least a dream or a vision or something saying, "O.K. Stewgad, you've got 6 more days, so make the most of them!" I suspect I've got more like 14 days -- but man, if only I had some certainty! I'm not very good at the waiting patiently for anything, really, let alone for my life to completely change.

To help me with this Waiting Conundrum, yesterday I decided to clean out the bathroom cabinets. Have you looked in your bathroom cabinets lately? You might want to. It was Very Educational. I was astonished. Here's a partial list of stuff I found: a prescription bottle of drugs from 1996, a huge bottle of 200 echinacea pills that expired in 2004, 10 used razor cartridges that just got stuck back in the cabinet instead of thrown away, 5 bottles of lotion with less than .25 an oz in them, all of the cabinet hinges and handles and screws and accompanying hardware that we replaced with nicer ones when we moved in 4 years ago, five used toothbrushes that I kept for cleaning grout in a bathroom that has no tile or grout, and a leg-waxing kit that I used once (and by once I mean one strip of wax, one strip of fabric, one rip, one giant excruciating sensation, one hysterical scream, and one vow to never attempt anything like that ever again) three years ago. Apparently purging and cleaning out the hinterlands of one's house is also a 9th+ month symptom of pregnancy. It's like those hormones drive you to make sure that your child can enter the world without bearing the karmic burden of your old boxes of leg wax and jars of expired flower powder pills.

I haven't tackled anything else today, but next on the list is the closet under the stairs. I'm pretty sure that it contains every coat I've owned since college, all of Spousal Unit's sailing and sporting equipment, our rollerblades, plus all of our camping gear. (stored there because when we moved in I insisted that it couldn't be kept in the basement because of the smell. Nothing is worse than a moldy smelling two-man tent!) But, there's got to be more than that in there since when you open the door, it is like a cartoon closet -- the wall of stuff is so complete it fills the door frame and threatens to spill out so you just shove what you've got back into it and close the door and hope it all stays put. Yep, I've got my work cut out for me there. That should help with the Waiting.

And speaking of waiting, you may wonder how our kitchen is faring. We're actually really, really pleased. The framing, electric, and windows are all done. This weekend S.U. is doing the insulation and is miserably scraping all of the glue from the ceiling that held the ancient cardboard ceiling tiles to the ancient beadboard ceiling. Both of which are essential steps so that the carpenters can start drywalling on Tuesday. They anticipate that the drywalling and initial plumbing will be done by the end of the week, so that next week we can do the painting and cabinet installation ourselves. (And by we/ourselves I mean Spousal Unit and whoever he can find to help him who isn't insanely pregnant.) Woo hoo! Paying someone to do most of the remodeling work sure is a hell of a lot faster than doing it all yourself! I'll post pictures next week sometime when we have the drywall up.

So, that leaves me with the Waiting. It's not like I don't have anything to do. There's the dissertation, the knitting, the cleaning, the laundry, the dissertation, reading, walking, weeding the garden, oh, and did I mention the dissertation? But, playing the waiting game so far hasn't been very conducive to Important Thinking kinds of tasks. So, I guess I'll muddle along until the day, trying to be patient, trying to Allow the Universe and the Gadlet to make their own schedules without me, despite the fact that it is MY BODY, dammit, and trying not to make predictions about what that schedule might look like.

[However, if YOU want to make predictions about that schedule, there is a small betting pool going on around this and the gender issue. Histgrad has called September 9 (got a gender guess Histgrad?), my Mom says a girl on the 11th, Phaeon says a boy on the 15th, and Spousal Unit says the 14th and doesn't have a gender guess, but I don't know if he gets to bet since he wins a new baby at the end of it all. Many, many dates and gender options are still available if you want in! You could win your very own Honorable Mention on Pretty Hard, Dammit -- almost as good as real cash!]

Oddly Panicked

Periodically in my life I've had bouts with anxiety. What dissertator hasn't, really? Breaking into a cold sweat, heart pounding, tightening abdomen, shortness of breath -- many things could set of this physical reaction. Like encountering an advisor unexpectedly, reading an article title that seemed to "scoop" my project, sometimes even just sitting down to work would kick it up.

Today, I just woke up panicked and I don't really know why. Well, hell, I probably do know why. Sometime in the next two to three weeks (my due date is a week and a half away, but I'm hoping for a little extra leeway...) my body is going to do this incredibly challenging and painful thing that I've been abjectly terrified of ever since I found out that babies had to get out of their mother's bodies somehow.

And if that isn't frightening enough, as soon as I get through that ordeal, my lifestyle is going to completely change. Even little things are going to be different. Like this morning, I ran Spousal Unit up to work so that I could have the car and he could still make his morning meeting. When he got out of the car, he thanked me and I replied without thinking about it, "Any time." As I drove back home to wait for the carpenters, I realized that from now on it might not just be as simple as "Any time." It won't be a matter of just throwing on some pants and hopping into the car. Any time will turn into "never" or "not without an hour of preparation that involves packing up everything the baby owns along with the baby."

These panicked feelings may also be compounded by the fact that I'm behind on my own work as well. I really, really need to finish the chapter that I started at the beginning of the summer. But, for the life of me I've been really struggling to make my brain work. I think it is probably mostly hormonal -- I'm having a hard time focusing on anything more complicated than television right now. Like last night Spousal Unit was telling me about this scientific discovery he made during the day yesterday and I found myself totally drifting off -- which does tend to happen when he gets going on the big sciencey stuff -- but last night I really, really wanted to pay attention and to hear what he was telling me but I couldn't do it.

And yet, I still have enough brain power to berate myself and feel guilty and work myself into a nice little frenzy. Because that last paragraph sounds to me kind of like an excuse for not working when I should be. I mean, the fucking clock is ticking! What am I waiting for???

So, how do you cure an anxiety attack when two of your three usual tools are not really options? (Obviously, I can't resort to the drugs since there are two humans living in here and one of them is not really ready for psych-meds. And therapy is out because its been over a year since I've been and I know it would take a week or two to get into see my therapist and by then the whole thing will probably be moot.) I already tried the guided relaxation techniques from my doula. When the woman in my iPod declared in her calm voice that, "I look forward to birthing with joy and ecstasy" I wanted to scream. SO not working! Which that leaves me with courage.

Here's what I'm going to do with what little courage I've got right now. I'm going to gird up my expansive and squirming loins (the Gadlet is pretty active right now) and I'm going to go for a swim because that always clams me down. Then, I'm going to pick up some lunch at the little Armenian deli and grab a chocolate croissant from the patisserie next door, and then I'm going to come back here, sit down with this chapter, and do something, ANYTHING, to make myself feel like I'm making some progress on this front.

Hopefully, by the time we take our tour of the hospital tonight I'll be in better shape and so won't run screaming from the building when they show me the birthing wing!

With T-2 weeks to go on the incubation of the Gadelt, Spousal Unit and I have been having a Very Serious Discussion lately and have come to no good conclusion. So I thought today I'd throw The Discussion open to you, my internets folk and see what the opinions are.

To Circumcise or Not to Circumcise? That is The Question.

Now, as you all know, we do not know the particular arrangement of the Gadlet's private parts. They are, still, private. However, since we're having a hospital birth, this kind of question has to be dealt with pretty soon after the Gadlet makes its grand appearance, so we're trying to be prepared for anything that might appear in that general area of the Gadlet's body.

For background, there's no cultural or religious reasons for us to do it. We're both midwestern American mixed-grill WASPS. So, we can't really look to cultural or geographic heritage to help us with this decision. Statistics do not help either. In our town, it runs exactly 50-50, so no matter what we do, the He-Gadlet would have cohorts that "look like him." (Although, really, I mean, does this matter? Do guys look? Do they compare? I suppose they do, especially as little dudes.) And, in the U.S. in general, about 55% of boys are circumcised -- again, about half. Not that the "I'm going to do what everyone else does" argument has ever been interesting to me or Spousal Unit.

But here are some arguments that are more interesting. On the one hand, there is some compelling medical evidence in the recent studies indicating that it reduces AIDS transmissions and Cervical Cancer in the circumcised men's partners. On the other hand, there's the common sense argument: "Hi Little He-Gadlet, welcome to the world -- WHACK! There goes a fair bit of your most sensitive part." That just cannot make for a nice introduction to life in general.

But there are also plenty of strange arguments that are not so compelling. For example, the whole "matching your dad" argument seems pretty lame. I read a great story once where the uncircumcised son of a circumcised man asked his dad one day why their penises looked different. His dad explained what circumcision was, and that at one time doctors thought it was best for everyone to have it, but that ideas had changed and so they had decided not to do it to him. The little kid looked up at his dad with huge terrified eyes and said "Thanks!" Could be an apocryphal story circulated by those anti-circumcisionites, but it is kind of sweet.

One thing that turns us both off is how those who fall into the anti-camp all seem to resort to some twisted Freudian kind of arguments -- it's like they can't resist making completely unsubstantiated links between circumcision and human behavior. Like the one that claims the U.S. and Israel are the most war-like countries and also have the highest rates of circumcision. Please. Not only does this smack of anti-Semitism, but it completely ignores all of human history which indicates that humans, no matter what their penises look like, are just really freaking warlike. While it makes a funny joke to think that American men might be less patriarchal assholes if their first few moments in life weren't spent having their penises snipped, I don't think that this really counterbalances the medical studies. I mean, who REALLY believes that Dick Cheney would be a nicer guy if his dick was, well, more of a dick?***

But, then again, are these medical studies really persuasive? You can pretty much find medical studies to support almost damn near anything. Particularly if we're talking big-money business like cancer research. Although unlike all of those studies paid for by the beef industry telling us that beef is the most healthy food on the planet or by the broccoli lobby getting us to eat more broccoli because it ends cancer, I don't think there's a foreskin lobby out there pouring merry buckets of cash into the research on circumcision.

So, here we are. Compelling reasons on both sides. Shitty reasons on both sides. I guess this is one of the first difficult decisions of parenthood -- one of many that we will make that undoubtedly will have profound consequences for the Rest of Our Child's Life. But, unlike choosing a name, or deciding on whether to use a pacifier, or which preschool to enroll the kid in, this one is irreversible. And, frankly, I'm just not sure there is a good answer here.

All in all, I think we're both REALLY hoping that we get a She-Gadlet instead so we can just chicken out of this decision!

Anyway, thoughts? Comments? Opinions?


Don't ask, not telling. In the infamous words of my beloved Buffy, "I'm taking a vacation from dealing."


I opted for a middle route: I told them I'd be happy to do it, but not in the next 6 weeks or so, so that if they needed them sooner, they had to ask someone else. All said they didn't need them until later and were happy to wait, so I postponed that for a bit and will still be able to satisfy my sense of obligation -- at a point when I know exactly what I'm dealing with as a new parent.

*** Given his date of birth, and the statistics for the nation at that time (conservative estimates say 60%) I'm making assumptions here. Allow me to reassure you that I have absolutely no personal experience or information about the nature of our Vice President's private parts.