Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Boob Fairy giveth, and the Boob Fairy taketh away.

Pregnant women love getting advice from other mothers. 

So I'm fairly certain that my cousin's wife, who is expecting her first child, is going to be super-psyched to read this post.   Because I have managed to keep two small humans alive for the past six years, and because being helpful is my third-favorite hobby (after scrapbooking and drinking), I thought I'd dedicate a post to Jacquie, in which I share some of the really important things about pregnancy and babies that I've picked up along the way.

1. Pregnancy boobs are not yours to keep. This is really depressing, because it's the only good thing about pregnancy (well, besides all the eating and the actual baby). When you're not busy throwing up and napping during the first trimester, it's great to look in the mirror and see that, finally, the Boob Fairy has granted you the boobs you've been praying for since you were 15. Later, as your stomach swells, they provide a nice balance to your figure. Bigger boobs, bigger belly, bigger butt. But then the baby is born (I hope I didn't give anything away there) and your milk comes in.  That's when they get really, scarily big and you will cry because now you're going to have to order those ugly, ultra-supportive bras that have 6 clasps in the back, straps an inch wide, and coverage that goes from just under your collar bone down to your belly button. However, before you vow to boycott Victoria's Secret and their refusal to create a line of 44GGs, just wait a few months. They'll get smaller. And then they'll get smaller and smaller.  I know many women who were a C-cup before pregnancy who are now the proud owners of 36As. Yay, Mother Nature!  Aren't we supposed to be promoting the evolution of the species?  Way to help our cause. 

2. Competitive farting is totally acceptable when you're pregnant. It might be the only time that you can actually beat your husband at this game. But once that baby is born, it goes back to being gross. Plus, you're a mother now, so you have to set a good example.

3. Not that I ever farted. Ever. But I've heard sometimes that happens. To some people who are not me.

4. Congratulations, it's a boy!  You may have noticed that your newborn son can I put this delicately...disproportionately large in a particular area?  Now, before Daddy goes around proudly pointing at his son and declaring to everyone in the delivery room, "That's MY boy!", you should know that there's a swelling factor at play here.  In fact, the swelling is from YOUR hormones, which are still coursing through your newborn's body.  The lesson?  Estrogen gives you big balls.  As if we didn't already know that.

5.  Here's a math problem for you:  if you feed your infant approximately 4 oz. of liquid and he still has 1 oz. of liquid in his stomach from the last feeding, how many ounces will come back up when you go to burp him?  (Hint: you need to use the following equation, in which x represents the number of ounces ingested and y represents the contents of the baby's belly:  (x+y)3 ).  Therefore, the correct answer is 125 oz.  Never underestimate how much a baby can spit up.  Or just how far spit-up can travel.  Your baby might be small, but he can get some serious trajectory.

6.  Six weeks after your baby arrives, you will have to visit the OBGYN for your post-partum check up.  At this appointment, your formerly wonderful doctor who you just love, the very same one who placed your beautiful newborn in your arms, will reveal him or herself to be a sadist by declaring you fit to resume sexual activity.  I don't know who the hell decided that six weeks was green-light time, but I'm thinking whoever it was probably hung out with the guy who came up with the word cunnilingus.  Your six week check-up is scary enough as it is (unless you've had a c-section) without your doctor reminding you that, despite not sleeping for more than 3 hours at a time and this appointment being the first time you've shaved your legs in six weeks, it's generally expected that at some point you will have sex again (no, really; just ask your husband).  A little tip for that first post-baby encounter:  have a bottle glass of wine beforehand.  Remember how half a Bartles and Jaymes wine cooler stolen from your boyfriend's mother's fridge helped take the edge off before the REAL 'first time' way back when?  Well, some things never change.  And after nine months without a drink, half a wine cooler might be all it takes.

7.  You know all of those things you swore you'd never do?  Like lift your baby up and smell his bottom to see if he needs a new diaper?  You're going to do most of them.

8.  At least once in your baby's first year, you will find yourself standing in line at CVS behind an old woman who is writing a check for cat food and 37 rolls of paper towels.  It will probably be the end of the day, because rather than ask your husband to pick up the Infant Tylenol on his way home from work, you will have spotted an excellent opportunity to leave the house ALONE.  You'll be so excited to be able to get out of the car without lugging that heavy baby-bucket-infant-carrier-car seat thingy that you won't even care that they haven't put out the newest issue of People magazine yet, because reading about John Travolta's new puppy will not only be fascinating, but will be the closest thing to literature you have encountered over the last few months.  As you are standing in line you'll catch sight of your shoulder and realize that, at some point during the day, your baby spit up on your shoulder without your knowing it.  (It's a good thing you can't see behind you, because there's a trail of it down your back).  Oh, did I mention that you're still wearing maternity clothes?  You're definitely not wearing make-up but you're positive that you may have brushed your teeth today.  Yesterday, for sure.  This is when someone you know will walk into the store.  This person will be one of the following:  a)the guy from high school who you had a crush on but never actually spoke to because he was way too popular, b)your ex-boyfriend's mother, or c)the woman from your prenatal yoga class who was due six weeks after you and is not only showered, blown-out and made-up, but she is back into her old jeans after only a month!  And her baby is sleeping through the night!  And she's starting a playgroup!  If you want to join!  So the babies can socialize!  And the mommies can share how special it is to be a mommy! 

The moral of the story is this:  let your husband pick up the Tylenol on the way home.  Then hand him the baby, take one of those really long showers where you use up all of the hot water, shave your legs, and grab a glass of wine.

And remember the MOST IMPORTANT lesson for any new mother:

You totally CAN get pregnant while nursing. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

On Cancer

I see clearly now that I am still a child.

I wear the costume of a grown woman; the clothes, the hair, the make up.  I do things like make appointments with the pediatrician and prepare vegetables and write notes excusing my son's absence from school.  My mouth discusses things like mortgages and car seat safety and unemployment rates.  I process the words of people I love, such as "I have to work late" and "I'm afraid I'll never be pregnant again" and then, heartbreakingly, "I have cancer." 

And then I see.

I am going through the motions of an adult, but really there is a little girl lying just underneath the surface.  She is five and has uneven bangs and bruises on her legs and she stomps her patten-leather shoe on the ground, balls her fists, screws up her face and yells, "WHAT!  THE!  FUCK!"

And then, just as quickly as she is five, she is ten.  There are new babies in Seattle, such sweet little twin babies, and my dad has nicknames for all of us.  I am visiting from Boston.  I watch my sister with her blond hair and wonder how it is to live still with your mother and father and these babies all in the same house.  I lie in bed and stare at the ceiling and wonder what it would be like to live here.  And then my eyes burn with quick, hot, shameful tears because I miss my mother and my room and my things.  When it is time to leave for the airport my stomach twists like a nervous woman wringing her hands.  My dad sits on the couch; I climb on his lap and bury my head into his neck to cry.  I breath him in; I take home his sweater.  My thirty-five year old self wants to be back there again; I want to climb through the phone wires and be on my dad's lap and bury my face into his neck to cry.   

I vacillate from one extreme to the other; I want to be the child, maybe if I climb into bed and close my eyes tight I will wake up and everything will be okay again.  I want to be the grown up; I want to hop a plane and sit at a bedside and nod at doctors and get the coffee.

There was a moment, once, when I actually was a grown up.  My father gave a very moving eulogy at my grandfather's funeral.  He was 3,000 miles from home, burying his father without the comfort of his wife beside him.  After his speech, he came back to the pew and sat next to me.  I reached over and took his hand in mine.  I squeezed. 

I am here, with you

He squeezed it back.

Tonight I am 3,000 miles away and my dad is sick.  He's temporarily sick, but sick nonetheless.  I feel far.  And helpless.  I am five and yelling, I am ten and crying, I am grown and squeezing his hand. 

I am squeezing his hand.

I am here, with you.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I scream, you scream, we all scream for fellatio.

Let's talk cunnilingus.

Not, like, actual cunnilingus. 

I'm talking about the word.

Cunnilingus is just an ugly word.  It sounds like something you'd catch from not wearing flip-flops in the shower at the gym.

Example:  "I finally went to the doctor because my feet were SO itchy and red.  Turns out I have effing cunnilingus and I have to use this nasty-smelling antifungal cream for like a week."

See?  Ewwww.

Or it could be something you cough up when you have a really disgusting chest cold.

Example:  "No, I really shouldn't come to work today, I think I have a fever and I keep coughing up all this green cunnilingusy stuff.  I'm pretty sick." 

It could even pass for one of those really stinky cheeses that no one ever wants to touch or smell but that you're pretty sure the Barefoot Contessa could turn into something totally, amazingly delicious.

Example:  "Omg, Barefoot Contessa just made this totally, amazingly delicious looking pastry thing that I'm dying to make, but she used cunnilingus and I don't think they sell that at Stop and Shop."

I think I've made my point.

Nice concept, horrible name.

single Guys, on the other hand, get fellatio.

Fellatio sounds like a delicious Italian treat.  It sounds like some sort of really expensive, exquisite frozen desert that I want to eat with a teeny-tiny spoon in a small outdoor cafe in Milan. 

Example:  "You REALLY need to try the chocolate fellatio.  It's worth the calories, trust me."

Are you picking up what I'm putting down?

So I'd like to suggest that we do away with the term cunnilingus (ewww) and replace it with a word that will evoke a more positive image.  Something more feminine.  Maybe even pretty.

I mean, most people I know are fans of it.  

So how about we call it...



Seriously, doesn't that sound SO much nicer?  Doesn't that make you feel all pretty and breezy and flowery and stuff?  It's way sexier than the grungy cunnilingus (obviously a word invented by some dude who hated women).  It's a word equal in imagery to fellatio. 

Plus, it's a lot easier to spell. 

Oh, and Dad, if you're reading this...I have no idea what any of this actually means.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Protons, electrons, and neutrons, oh my!

Dear Self at 16:

Some day you're going to have sons.  They're going to ask you a million questions, 83% of which are science questions, and you are going to wish you had learned a bit more.  It's in your best interest to put down Seventeen magazine, stop doing your math homework in chemistry class, and pay attention.

At least a little.

Oh, and the next time you sit down to write a short story, see what you can do with a sparkly vampire boy and werewolves. 

Trust me on this one.

Your Grown Up Self.

It's not like I don't know anything about science.

I can handle astronomy and meteorology questions; I love that stuff.  I am a wealth of useless knowledge about supernovas (lots of imploding and exploding) and tornadoes and occluded weather fronts. 

I got A's in biology in both high school and college (plus, I've taken First Aid and have seen every episode of E.R., Grey's Anatomy, and Scrubs, so I'm pretty sure I'm almost a medical professional). 

I not only remember some physics, but can identify examples in my everyday life.  For instance, if you hold a baby up over your head and he spits up, you're going to need to buy a new shirt.  Because of gravity.  That's physics right there. 

But really, I should never have passed chemistry.

In fact, let me tell you what I remember about chemistry from high school:

1. I sat next to a kid who chewed tobacco and spit into an empty water bottle through out the class.  I spent the entire class trying not to throw up.

2.  This same kid was also the class clown.  He was undeniably hilarious, usually at the expense of someone else.  Everyday I prayed he wouldn't notice me.  This worked until one day when I wore a seriously awesome outfit, brand new from The Weathervane.  It was a red and black plaid skirt with a matching jacket.  I had my black tank top and black leggings (the ones with lace at the bottom; because nothing suggests sex appeal like a lace-bottomed-legging).  I also had a matching scrunchy and matching earrings.

Seriously, WHAT is cooler than matching your skirt, jacket, scrunchy, and earrings?

Um, NOTHING.  That's what.

(shut up, it was 1992)

I walked in wearing my super-stylish outfit, sat down, and immediately felt him looking at me.


I avoided eye contact.  I took out my notebook, crossed and uncrossed my legs, chewed my pen, and then tried to look very busy doodling on the desk. 

"Hey," he said.  "HEY," he said again when I ignored him the first time.

He looked at me with a straight face and asked, "What, no bagpipes?"

I never wore my awesome plaid ensemble again. 

3.  One day a girl in the class, Gina, laughed so hard she farted.  I went to school with this girl for 7 years and I remember nothing about her other than her last name and that she farted at some point during the 1991-1992 school year.

4.   Our teacher was an older guy.  He wasn't a mean older guy, he was sweet like a Grandpa.  One day he stood up with a piece of paper in each hand and held his arms out to his side.  He started scooting across the floor, raising one arm up while lowering the other, again and again.

I had no idea what the hell he was talking about.

But he sure looked cute doing his little dance.

5.  I got an A on the midterm.

6.  I sort of cheated on the midterm.  I didn't even take the test; a boy who sat diagonal to me took the test, wrote his answers down on a small piece of paper, tucked it into his calculator, and passed the calculator on to me (we were allowed to share calculators; see, I told you our teacher was clueless sweet).  When I brought home my report card, my mother looked at my grades, confused. 

  "I don't understand how you could get C's first and second term and then get an A on the midterm?"

  "I know, I studied really hard." 

I don't even know how I managed C's the first two terms.  Apparently, turning my Scantron sheet on it's side and coloring in dots that formed the letters of the first name of the boy I liked at the time was C-level work.  Sweet.

7.  Our textbook was red.  I think I once saw the term 'covalescent bond' in it. 

(I totally just googled 'covalescent bond' to make sure that was even a real thing.) 

(It is.)

You'd best study up, Self at 16.

And enough with the AquaNet already.