Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Dual, and conflicting, diagnoses

Bigfella and I both went to the doctor yesterday, and we both received confirmation of what we already suspected.

For me: I have gallstones. Thankfully, the ultrasound also confirmed that my other organs are all good, and that the gallstones are not causing infection or inflammation. Doctor's orders: refrain from eating dairy and other fatty foods while on two week vacation with parents (that's a whole nother entry) and meet with surgeon upon return.

For Bigfella: After two moms, two dirty diapers and a freakishly large three month old arrived in the doctor's office, Bigfella immediately added a third dirty diaper to the collection in ziploc bags. Diaper number 2 (from 11 am yesterday morning) was swabbed for a fecal occult test. It confirmed that Bigfella was in fact, pooping blood, and not bits of strawberry pancakes or cherry tylenol as some well-meaning folks had suggested. (as an aside, how would strawberry pancakes get into Bigfella's diaper? who feeds a 3 month old strawberry pancakes? or pancakes of any sort for that matter? Whose breastmilk is strawberry flavored?--though, given the amount of Strawberry Quik, strawberry ice cream and strawberry soda I consumed in the first trimester, if anyone's could, it would be mine. but, I digress...) Diaper number 3 was cultured, and we should get the results Thursday to rule out a viral or bacterial infection. The doctor also confirmed that Bigfella had eczema, congestion, a red bumhole, and diaper rash. He agrees with us that a food allergy is the likely culprit. He agreed with me that a food journal for the next month is a good idea. He even agreed that, given the timing of when I cut out dairy and added soymilk to treat my gallstones (see above), the likely food allergy is soy.

So, therein lies the conflict. Bigfella is making his 20-year vegetarian mother decide between her own health (the soymilk and soy proteins that I am using to reduce the fat in my diet) or his health (the dairy that makes me sick, but apparently keeps him healthier than the alternative). So, as we begin a month of anal retentive recordkeeping of my food, detergents and soaps, his skin, and his diapers, we also begin a two week visit with family, a wedding and a college reunion. I have read way too much about food allergies to feel comfortable just eating freely for the next few weeks. My mom convinced me to start eating chicken for the next few weeks. I do need protein, and my favorite protein sources are dairy, eggs, tofu and peanuts. There are only so many beans/rice meals i can eat. Especially if they can't be topped with cheese and sour cream. Today has been a long and emotional day for the residents of the ark.

Oh, yeah. The ped also confirmed something else we already knew: Bigfella really is freakishly large. 17 pounds, 9 ounces at 3 months.

Monday, May 15, 2006

What makes a mother?

I have been thinking a lot about this, and fully intended to blog about it before Mother's Day. But, Saturday afternoon, as it percolated in my brain while I mowed the backyard, Dyke Two called me in to the house and showed me the contents of Bigfella's diaper. There was blood and mucus in his pants. Understandably, we got a little distracted by Bigfella's wellbeing, and I quickly dropped the blog entry from the forefront of my head, and focused instead on the quality and quantity of Bigfella's poops. (Five years ago, I would have shot myself in the head if I ever thought I would be examining someone else's bowel output, let alone googling about it, staying up late thinking about it or asking random people on the street about it). But, since Bigfella has a doctor's appointment in a couple of hours, and I have learned more than I care to think about bloody baby poop, I am ready to try again...

So, what makes a mother? We know people become mothers through birth or adoption, but there is more to mothering than a legal or biological connection. I think of Dyke Two who is neither a legal nor a biological mother to our son, but is so clearly his Mama. I think about our friend Nancy, whose only child, a son, died three years ago at the age of 20 of a freak brain aneurysm. Nancy is still a mom, even if the child she mothers is no longer with us. i think about our friend Jen, who lost her daughter during the breakup with Liz, because the state did not recognize Jen as a mother. I think about my stepmother, who is clearly a mother to me, and a grandmother to Bigfella. I have been blessed to have two moms since long before my father made the brilliant decision to marry my stepmom.

So, motherhood does not require a legal or biological connection. As I mowed, I realized that I spent last Mother's Day mowing my backyard, and that I also spent last Mother's Day squirting swimmers up my hoo-ha. That realization made me wonder when exactly I became a mother. I still swear that as the sperm entered my uterus that afternoon last Mother's Day, I felt some warmth and tingling as something much larger than the tiny vial of sperm entered my life. I truly believe that I felt Bigfella's creation as the sperm and egg met. At that moment, I knew I was a mother, but in restrospect, I think I was a mother before that. As I pushed the mower through knee high weeds, I thought about all of my friends, both online and in real life, who are doggedly continuing their pursuit of motherhood, as they chart their cycles, swallow their pills, wrestle with the dildocam, screw on demand (the straight coupled ones), order sperm from their source and squirt (the not-straight coupled ones) on the best schedule they can determine from the information they have. Society does not call them mothers yet, because they don't have babies, but I think they are mothers already.

I realized that motherhood began for me when I began to swallow those prenatal vitamins, changed my diet and exercise regimen and stopped drinking--all to make my body and life more welcoming and safe for a person I had never met. Motherhood for me began when somebody else's needs became more important than my own. It is clear that Dyke Two puts Bigfella's needs over her own, even without the legal and biological connection. And if that's when motherhood begins, then all of my friends, both those whose children are no longer with them and those whose children are not yet with them, are mothers.

So, on this day after Mother's Day, I recognize and send my love to those overlooked yesterday: the childless mothers. And, I urge you all to do the same: hug your partners, call your friends, send an email to those far away, order flowers and chocolates to be delivered to their offices. And, in your honor, I share this prayer:

We enter into this stage of our lives consciously, aware of the tremendous responsibilities involved in bringing a new life into the world.

With this responsibility we also acknowledge the hopes and dreams that we share. Dreams for a bright future filled with joy and warmth of family, and hope that the world will become and remain a truly hospitable place – a world worth living in.

We pledge ourselves to continue working towards Tikkun Olam – making the world a more perfect place. With this in mind as we prepare to join together in conceiving a child – we give Tzedakah to ___________. This money is a symbol of the actual work we must do to make this world worthy of a new presence.

At this time we wish to acknowledge to one another that should we find conception impossible, we both look favorably on the prospect of adopting and welcoming a child into this family as our own.

Let us now call down the Holy sparks of divinity to join our union in Creating a new life – sparked by the Divine.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Ark's Needs: According to Google

So I got an email that made me chuckle this morning. I'm just going to paraphrase it because it wasn't particularly well-written, and G-d knows I can't have grammatical errors on my blog.

So what you're supposed to do is enter your name and the word "needs" into Google. (I suppose any search engine would work, but whatever...) Copy down the first (or funniest) web page summaries that appear.

When I did that this morning, the Spirits of the Internets clearly knew us well:

[Bigfella] needs a friend. [Bigfella] needs to create enemies and situations where his talent and deeds are called into question to properly motivate himself. [Bigfella] needs those wheels. He's a hefty fellow. Shake your booty [Bigfella]!

[Dyke One] needs a team of committed people to pray for her and her ministry. [Dyke One] needs to think about [Dyke One] right now. [Dyke One] needs to do laundry.

[Dyke Two] needs a map to find where she is. [Dyke Two] needs to publish, not travel. [Dyke Two] needs whores, too!

I just want to know: what is Bigfella capable of if given proper motivation? Where is this ministry of mine? Will Dyke Two ever finish HER dissertation? What will those whores do to our marriage?

And, how the hell do the internets know about the massive pile of laundry next to our washing machine??

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A few thousand words

We finally found the cord to our digital camera, so for your viewing pleasure:

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Bigfella coming home from the hospital.

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Bigfella at approximately 2 months, rapidly outgrowing the carseat.

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Stylin' in his Roundabout.

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Kisses from Mommy

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The now obsolete Baby Bjorn. I haven't taken photos of him in the Ergo.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Gut reactions

I had an appointment with my doctor today. He said it sounded like one of three things:

1. gallstones
2. esophogeal spasms from reflux
3. both gallstones and esophogeal spasms

So, he poked and prodded in my belly and mentioned that if I had gallstones I would feel pain radiating forward from my right shoulder blade area. As longtime readers of The Ark might recall, I have had a long quest for an appropriate babycarrier, since all carriers I had tried caused (guess what's coming here) pain in the area between my shoulders, but more on my right side. So much for thinking that my ginormous baby was the sole cause of my back pain.

But, the doctor did a blood draw to check liver function and a few other things, gave me a sample of Protonix to help with potential spasms, and ordered an ultrasound. As I left, he said, "Well, the Protonix should be OK for breastfeeding. It's a Category B drug for pregnancy, so you should be fine."

Thankfully, I told him I would clear it with my pediatrician's lactation consultant before I took it.

As it turns out, the PDR online says not to take it while breastfeeding. I guess I'm not surprised that a doctor who specializes in adult internal medicine wouldn't be up on prescription drugs and breastfeeding. However, I was disappointed that he even asked me if I was breastfeeding (the OB and ped assumed I was) and I was disappointed because he is the father of four children, all under the age of 10, and should, therefore, be more aware of the breastfeeding relationship.

So much for trusting that the doctor knows best. I have too often been disappointed with the care he provides me, particularly surrounding my GI issues. (He's great for my asthma and knee issues). I think that this seals the deal, and I will be changing doctors. I guess I'll start seeing the flamboyant queen who saved Dyke Two's life after her "episode."

Friday, May 05, 2006

About Last Night...

It's been a mixed bag over here on the Ark, and last night exemplified it.

Bigfella's sleep has been slowly slipping toward the crapper. We think he is teething, which means that his evenings are spent with hand shoved in mouth, chewing on his fingers, crying as he valiantly fights falling asleep. Dyke Two is gearing up for the end of school year reports and presentation to the school board, which means later nights at work. I feel guilty putting Bigfella to bed before she even comes home from work, so she comes home to a cranky, drooling baby and a cranky, hungry wife. But, she gets home and I end up trying to put Bigfella to sleep just as dinner is ready. I know this is a mom issue, not a baby issue, but by the time Bigfella finally falls asleep, I am resenting the hell out of Dyke Two and cycling through all sorts of catastrophic thinking about what life will be like when I return to school.

Last night, she took Bigfella into the kitchen while she cooked and I watered the boxwoods and forsythia we got from freecycle and the grass seed we are trying to get sprouted on our front "lawn." Dinner was ready just as Bigfella hit nuclear meltdown mode. I inhaled dinner as he writhed in my arms and then began to try and nurse him into tranquility. We went into the bedroom and I swaddled him, turned on his CD and began the rest of the bedtime routine. At that precise moment, my abdomen began to burn and cramp with what can only be described as the Worst Fucking Pain I Have Ever Felt. (In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that this pain was, in fact tied with the pain described in an earlier entry when I writhed on the couch, trying to determine if I was having a heart attack and freaked out that Bigfella refuses the bottle since I was sure I was about to die and leave Dyke Two with an infant she was unable to feed. Once that pain subsided, I began to build up my freezer stash.) I placed Bigfella in the crib, and called to Dyke Two to come and complete the sleeping routine, as I staggered toward the bed to curl into the fetal position. She came in and picked him up and brought him into the living room. This of course pissed me off even more since in the pain-induced haze, I saw this as Dyke Two sabotaging what little sleep routine we had. Within seconds, however, I decided to overlook the anger and focus on breathing through the pain.

I couldn't do it. I breathed through 23 hours of labor and pushing out a 10 pound baby without an epidural, but this pain was worse. I wove my way toward the couch, where I squirmed in pain for 10 minutes, and then made a beeline for the bathroom where I dry heaved and spit into the toilet for 30 minutes. I then returned to the couch, and lay there for another 15 minutes as we debated a trip to the ER. Thankfully, Bigfella was happily sleeping in his bouncy chair as Dyke Two rocked him throughout the whole ordeal. Just as we were gearing up to go to the ER, the pain subsided as quickly as it started. Internet research later in the night is leading us toward gallstones. Great. I'm a woman who has never had more serious surgery than tooth extraction, and has never spent more than an hour in a hospital except for Bigfella's birth. My plan right now involves borrowing a page from ostriches, and I successfully avoided calling the doctor until the office was closed today.

After the excruciating hour, I took Bigfella back into the bedroom and successfully transferred him into the crib while Dyke Two turned off the sprinkler and brought in the mail. She handed me a letter from URS. I opened it, and skimmed it:

congratulations on your acceptance. Tuition and fees covered. Health insurance covered. Stipend awarded. Named Fellowship with large sum of money attached to it. contact office to discuss your work assignment.

Excuse me?? Back up a moment. Re-read second to last sentence.

Named Fellowship with large sum of money attached to it. (Editorial note: by large sum, we mean three times the stipend offered last year.)

I hadn't actually realized how nervous and guilty I felt about paying for childcare for the semester until this unexpected money came into our lives.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Mama's boy

It's time for me to face facts. Throughout the process of thinking about getting pregnant, trying to get pregnant, being pregnant, and laboring to push Bigfella out, I had one recurring fearful thought. "What if the baby only looks like the donor?" True confessions time: Bigfella must look like the donor, because he sure as hell doesn't look like me. While pregnant, I was worried that seeing a little person who looked like neither me nor Dyke Two would be somehow distressing to me. Of course, as it turns out, this is a ridiculous fear, since Bigfella is the most precious sight I have ever laid eyes on. I mean, he's beautiful.

People on the street stop us and tell us how beautiful he is. He has creamy latte colored skin, big brown eyes, a round, symmetrical face and just a hint of the brown curls that will one day cover his head. And when he breaks out his gummy, toothless grin, and his cheeks squinch up and his eyes light up, he looks just like Dyke Two.

I kid you not. The boy looks just like his mama.

Except that's not possible. I took high school biology. I took a course in college on genetics. (It was like "genetics light" for non-science folks, but it counts).

It's not just me seeing Dyke Two's love reflected back at me in the eyes of my son. People on the street mention it. The OB, hospital nurse and lactation consultant all mentioned it. My mom has admitted it. Dyke Two's co-workers talk about it. The boy looks like his mama.

When people tell us that, I just tell them, "I think she spit in the vial."

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Results are in

and, for the first time in my voting career (which may not span that many years, but i have never missed an election. never. not even for soil and water commissioner. i even voted two years ago on a completely uncontested ballot.) every vote I cast was for a winner. That has never happened before to me. Even on that uncontested ballot. In that election, I wrote someone in against our senior US Senator.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Bigfella is a future Chicago-style voter

Spring in Smallcity means two things: fresh strawberries and local elections. I'll start with the elections.

We elected city council and school board today. Bigfella came with me while I voted. We got to the polling place and "met" two city council candidates. Our polling place is an elementary school, and I got to double-whammy and be extra-efficient because I picked up a print of a "Good Night Moon" illustration from a fellow freecycler who works there. So, after getting pats and kisses from the politicians (yes, they really do kiss babies) while Mommy made sure to tell them that we will be leaving RedState as soon as we can due to the horrible laws and policies, we went into the polling place. I gave them my name, and from the other table, I hear a high pitched squeal,

"Oh my God! That's the famous Bigfella."

I turn and see a particularly queeny young man sitting behind me. I must have looked a little confused and worried because he quickly reassured me, "I'm a friend of Gayboy's. He told me all about you and Dyke Two and Bigfella." Bigfella is famous. A rockstar, I tell you.

I voted: two dems for city council, one incumbent and two newbies for school board. I got my "I voted" sticker. Bigfella got a "future voter" sticker and I chickened out and told the elderly poll worker that Bigfella's "father" was 6'6". (why does this question continue to catch me off guard? and, what motivates my sometimes reluctance to "out" our family to certain random strangers but not others?)

Later today, Dyke Two called me and said that she was in front of the polling place, chatting with one of the school board candidates.

"Please bring Bigfella over here so I can take him to vote."

Back to the polling place, where Bigfella was kissed and patted by two school board candidates and the sheriff. Then, he went and voted, again. My family's communist, labor union heritage is showing: vote early and often.

We headed home, where we finally did a little research to determine what we might be able to do about Bigfella's eczema. His eczema is not bad, don't get me wrong. He has patches of dry red skin on his elbows, and dry skin on his shoulder blades. But, in trying to determine what skin care products to give him, I stumbled on something that suggested that fresh strawberries are a common culprit in breastfed babies' eczema.

Which brings us to the second thing spring brings in Smallcity. I have been eating fresh strawberries like they're going out of style. And, Bigfella has had eczema since I started eating them. The other diet changes since the start of the eczema: crystal light type drinks sweetened with Splenda and Kashi Healthy Hearts cereal.

I think it is the strawberries....