And then the phone rang

•November 12, 2014 • 1 Comment

Jack had a biopsy on Thursday, which is why I didn’t post the end of last week. We got the report today, and it’s…mixed, I guess you could say. There are precancerous cells in multiple locations. Because breast cancer runs in his family, the doctor is willing to recommend a double mastectomy. So… top surgery, just like that. Which is great! And certainly easier than the path that involves hormones and massive weight loss before it could be considered.

But at the same time, scary, and challenging, since he’s a stay-at-home dad and I’m the sole breadwinner, and I’m less than 4 months back from maternity leave, so I don’t have much PTO saved up.

We’ll manage, though. This isn’t the first major health issue we’ve had to deal with (long time readers may remember the benign brain tumor he had removed). We have a community to rely on, and a network of family-by-choice willing to help.

Growing pains

•November 11, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I was thinking about baby milestones yesterday because we got rid of all the “tiny baby” equipment over the weekend – swing, bouncy chair, mini co-sleeper, and the gadget I used to track feedings during her first weeks. Plus we lowered the crib and bought a jumperoo. She loves it, every bit as much as she loved the swing when she was tiny and it was the only place I could put her down.

I can see why people have more than one kid; anything to put off that heartwrenching sorrow that comes with knowing the tiny creature that fluttered against your belly will never be there again, and she’s six months closer to going into the world, all grown up.

Then I remind myself of the heartburn, and the nausea, the needles and the doctor’s visits, the hours of excruciating pain, the days when I was drunk with exhaustion and so desperate to talk to other adults that I took her to play group at two weeks, and I think of doing all that again, but this time with someone who desperately needs my attention all the time… and yep, good with having an only child.

A thing you don’t realize until you’re a parent…

•November 10, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Pregnancy is counted in weeks, not months.

It’s emblematic of the whole new-parent system – the milestones are a lot subtler than you realize from the outside. Sure, there are the big ones too – rolling over, sitting, crawling. First steps, first tooth. But there are smaller ones nobody talks about.

Rolling over, for example, is two distinct milestones: tummy to back, and back to tummy. Also there’s a difference between doing it once and doing it regularly. Over the weekend the baby figured out how to sit without anyone helping her balance. She still can’t maneuver into a sitting position from a different one, so – can she sit up? Yes and no. She can crawl – but only backwards. She can get up on her hands and knees and rock, and she can scoot forward sporadically.

Then there are the milestones that can’t count for sure. Is that a smile, or just gas? Jack swears that she said “Mama” yesterday when he took her out to the car and she realized I wasn’t following them. (I was finishing a cable row on the second Fetching mitt. I do knit! Just not much.) But there’s no way of knowing whether she really understood that those sounds mean me, or she was just making noise.

I suppose there are subtle milestones in everything – when you can knit but not purl, for example. The first time you cable without a needle, or execute Jeni’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off without looking it up again. (Google keeps track of these things. You have visited this page 47 times, it says, silently judging. Really, user? You haven’t figured out how to do that yet?)

But eventually we all get there, and each skill becomes so unremarkable you forget that you used to habitually skip patterns containing intarsia or Fair
Isle or cable cast-ons. (Why is it called that? It would be less intimidating if it was called something else. In-between cast on, maybe.)

Some things you may always struggle with. Running. Blocking large shawls. Embroidery. But that’s okay too. If Google judges you for looking up Kitchener stitch yet again…well, you can always clear your cookies.

That was a first…

•November 9, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I am sitting in an overstuffed chair at the back of the thrift store, nursing. I’ve nursed in public since day one, all over the place, in many different settings, and never had anything but positive reactions. At first, I think this is another one, as the lady leans over and tells me that she nursed her four children. I smile, one breastfeeding mama to another, but she continues. “You can get them to do it under a blankie if you keep trying.” And then she leans over and proceeds to talk to my daughter, distracting her, leaving me pretty exposed. If she was trying to embarrass me – well, it didn’t work.

My smile never falters, because I belong to a number of pro-breastfeeding groups on Facebook, because I’ve read any number of stories about mothers who were shamed or asked to leave or told to feed their children in bathrooms. I know the law, in Washington and Oregon. I know that I have every right to do what I’m doing. “You were lucky,” I tell her coolly. “Mine ripped the blanket off the first time I tried it.”

This is true, and I decided at the time that a quietly nursing baby without a cover was a whole lot more discreet than a baby fighting to get the cover off. Of course, when she was younger, she’d latch on and stay that way until she fell asleep. Now, she’s likely to pop off and smile at anyone who walks by. I wish she’d let me cover her, not out of modesty (I keep a burp cloth handy to cover myself when she’s not actively eating) but because she’d be less distracted with a blanket over her head. I can’t blame her, though; I wouldn’t want to eat with a blanket over my head either.

As if to prove me right, a few minutes later, another woman stops to tell me how beautiful the baby is. (We get this a lot.) She’s at least a minute into the conversation before she actually realizes that I’m breastfeeding, and she apologizes for distracting her.

New mothers are bombarded with the message that breastfeeding is the best choice for baby, but a social commitment to breastfeeding means an acknowledgement that mothers need to go places and do things, and that babies aren’t particular about when they get hungry. A newer mother, a younger mother, one who was more easily shamed, might have decided that nosy old woman was the last straw, and breastfeeding was just too hard. (Breastfeeding IS hard, and it takes a lot of time and dedication, and if you decide not to, that’s fine too. Feed your baby however you’re comfortable. But shaming by nosy passers-by shouldn’t have to be part of your decision matrix.)

An appropriate time to offer a breastfeeding mother suggestions about how she might go about breastfeeding: right after she asks you. Otherwise? Leave her alone. She’s busy.

First world knitting problems

•November 5, 2014 • Leave a Comment

That moment when you find a completed mitten and half of the second one and you have no idea what the pattern was.

And then it was Tuesday…

•November 4, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Writing during the week is hard, you guys.

Day 2 – Sunday following “fall back”

•November 2, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Whoever decided Daylight Savings Time was a good idea was not a parent of very young children.

Gaining an hour just meant she woke up an hour early, fought every nap, and was super crabby by bedtime.

 
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