RIGHT NOW

Vegas,

I’m a live in the now sort of mom.  I didn’t used to be.  When I was a tiny little squint of a thing I was always thinking of the next big event.  My birthday.  My sisters’ birthdays.  Christmas.  Fourth of July.  Thanksgiving.  Any celebration.  Any party.  Let’s be honest, any time there might be dessert.  I was barely looking at where I was, I was so busy looking at where I wasn’t.  And that’s because where I wasn’t there was always cake.

Now, I’m more of a pretty much only a today or tomorrow mom.  I know it would be sexier to say I am a this second mom, or a minute by minute mom, but I actually am still always 24 hours ahead.  Because let’s fact it, if I lived in this moment, there’d be practically no chance for cake, and if only one thing is certain, it’s that I’m a cake mom.

So all the way through your development so far, I’ve been happy to be right where we were.  Sure, there was a teensy bit of impatience at the 10 day point and some hurry up around the 12 week mark but until now I’ve been happy to appreciate my time with your mother, every last second of quiet and long afternoon lazing around a chilly house.  Well, let’s be honest, that lazing around happened only once, on Saturday, because we’ve been behaving like banshees for months.  But soon you’ll be here and we’ll have to keep the house warmer, we’ll scurry more and banshee less and there won’t be quiet.  Not like it has been.

Frankly child, I’m not a nostalgic sort and I’m getting impatient.  I’ll be happy to trade in our current brand of peace for the incoming make and model so long as it happens RIGHT NOW.  I know insisting that you hurry up please come on already now now now has no impact whatsoever.  You’ll come when you’re ready, when those hormones open the door, and when you’re finished screwing your head into your mother’s cervix.  And I’d probably be happier sitting here peacefully, living in the moment, especially since your due date is a week away.  But Vegas, I’d so like it if you came right now.  Or tonight.  Or even in the morning.  Please?

And it starts…the years of my pleas falling on deaf ears.

Love, Mama

P.S. That’s the first time I ever called myself a mom.  And I cried.

14 days

Dear 50% effaced, one centimeter dilated baby Vegas,

I’m nervous and a little green.  I can’t believe you’re on your way and I can’t believe we’re actually going to take care of you.  It’s not like we wouldn’t, I mean, we’re fit.  I promise.  It’s just that I’m pretty sure we’ll be good mothers and terrified that you’ll be a bad baby.  Wait.  That probably already makes me unfit.  I’m worried you’ll be so awful we won’t like you, that’s what everyone tells us anyway.  How frustrating you’ll be, how you won’t sleep, how you’ll scream.  Then, the well-meaning ones say that you’ll make it up to us by gazing into our eyes.  And by this I think they mean your mother’s eyes as she’s feeding you.  I gather you’ll pretty much hate me til you’re 12 and then I’ll hate you, so that’s awesome.

So when I sat down at work this morning, I took a deep breath and it hitched.  It hitched all the way up my spine and through my lungs and sprang out of my eyes in tears.  I’m not at all surprised.  People who get past the glassy eyes keep saying the same things:  Are you ready?  Getting ready?  How is D? and, sometimes, Are you excited?  And I am, Vegas.  I am all of those things.  Ready.  Getting Ready. Excited.  And I also know the answer about your mother, she’s doing just fine.  However, given your mother’s general good humor, “fine” is probably something you should be worried about.  When you’re out here, you’re shooting for “good”, not “fine”.  Got it?

I hear babies live in the moment, which is good, because that’s the way we’ve been doing things around here lately.  I’m eager for you to come, but I’m just as happy you aren’t here yet.  You’ll understand when you’re having kids of your own, or maybe when you ask out your first date.  It’s that kind of queasiness that makes you want to run, but has such a shiny reward at the end that you can’t help but work through it.  I promise the throwing up feeling will go away right after you ask her.  Can you promise me the same thing when you get here?  The before and after are just parts of life.  Just like I’m not mourning my last day of sleeping in (long gone by now, anyway), I’m not celebrating my first moments up with you.  Each thing in its time.  Remember that when you want my banana and I give you a bottle.

Vegas, these are the things I am: terrified excited apprehensive worried happy ill nervous delighted overwhelmed frantic paralyzed joyful.  I’ll bet you can hardly wait to join me.

Mama

Awake and Restless (Again)

I’d say being awake at 3:30 am was nesting, except that it’s not a completely irregular thing.  All it takes is something to wake me up a little past coherent (and sometimes it takes nothing at all) and my mind predictably soars into awareness.

I can feel it coming.  Once I realize I’m awake, then I have to quietly fight to keep from thinking about the baby, a glass of water, the dog, the computer, my wife, work and then…it’s over.  I’m awake and it’s impossible to lay there.  Every sound is sandpaper.

I know she’s having more trouble sleeping and that her wrists sting, her nose is swollen and she probably has to pee.  Tonight, you can throw in a restless dog with inexplicably swollen eyes, fresh sheets (can you believe I get distracted by clean sheets?) and restless anxiety that manifests as noise intolerance, a tight jaw and worry that mosquitoes are biting me.  Vegas, you are in for a treat.

In fact, if he were out here now, this is what I’d tell him: today we said an almost goodbye to your great-grandmother.  It seems like days instead of weeks and my heart breaks for you and for your mother.  Your other great-grandmothers aren’t far behind and it would be terrible to go from three to one (or none) before you get here.  Not even on the same plane of terrible is the heat, your mother’s swollen feet and the unbelievable clutter in the house.  Vegas, honey, I love you, but all your not-so-tiny things are bringing me down.  Or rather, keeping me up.  It’s dawn and I shouldn’t be thinking about your playpen.

That pretty much sums up life right now.  It’s dawn and I shouldn’t be thinking about a playpen.

Oh Honey

I’m tempted to write a book called Things My Parents Did To Me so that I can give a signed copy to my child for comparison.  I think I’ll make out pretty good.  Though, for the record, I have awesome parents, they have their spectacularly weird moments.  Since I’m not going to write such a book, here is a complementary list of chapters:

Sleep Under a Plastic Tablecloth While We Camp While We All Sleep Inside.
Dad Says, “J-O-B Job”.  Starting From Five.
What Makes You Think You’ll Have a Place to Live if You Don’t Go to College?
Grandpa Was Not a Mobster.  Repeat After Me.
I Only Dropped You on Your Head Once.
Oh Honey, We Didn’t Know Back Then Those Things Would Stunt Your Growth.
(sub headings: Oh Honey, I’m With Your Sister That Weekend, Oh Honey, I Didn’t Know It Was BROKEN, and Oh Honey, There’s No Such Thing As Migraines)

Maybe I should just name the book Oh Honey.  While you’re taking that in, let me recommend a site that has absolutely captured my attention 1001 Rules For My Unborn Son.  The Random Rule feature in the right column is particularly terrific.  Go, enjoy.

Two More Months

The last time I was this impatient was when Vegas was about eight weeks into being more than a thought.  Oh, I wanted to tell everyone.  Wanted to explain why D was so tired, why she should get to go home early, why I was distracted.  I didn’t get much work done.  I fretted about whether we had told our parents too soon, whether the 12 week scan would show a problem.  I worried away at every tiny decision until we’d reached 12 weeks and we could tell people without waking the deep fear that we hadn’t yet crossed the disaster line from “you should have waited to tell” to support.

Since then though (at least until now) it has been smooth sailing.  Vegas’ development was out of my hands.  He was going to be okay, or he wasn’t.  I’m not sure what tipped but all of a sudden I’m constantly wondering about his well-being.  Is he moving?  Is he kicking?  How are feeling?  How is he feeling?  Why is he making you nauseous?  How did he get back on your nerve?  Is he wiggling?  Are there hiccups?  Why are you so tired?  Does he have everything he needs?  Is. He. Moving?  Is everything going to be okay?

She can only tell me that yes, he is moving and that she thinks everything is fine.  But, I can’t help but worry that it will suddenly stop being okay.  That we could somehow prevent something.  That I have some kind of control now.  That I can make him stop hurting her.  So here we are with 29 days to go (assuming we don’t have to give up anther seven, Vegas) and it’s only a minor consolation to know that by July 1st we’ll have a babe in arms.  Even though I know it’s the end of May and that will be the very tip of July, it still feels like two months.

This doesn’t get better, does it?

Leave It

Vegas, I know you’re going to blame me when all you have to play with is a few sticks and one dried cat poo (baseball, baby, you can work it out).   After all, I blamed my own mom for this very problem.   We had sand.  A small metal cup.  Varnished wooden blocks cut from spare two by fours.  Water, a paintbrush and rocks for drawing on the pavement.  Very, very occasionally, finger paints or play dough made at home.  Bubbles.   And yes, the aforementioned sticks.  The only dolls I had were the on-the-shelf sort and I didn’t get a proper stuffed animal until I was in the double digits.   I did have a blanket to suck on, that’s something.

I’m not trying to get your sympathy, child, but I am telling you what your baseline is.  While I was painting concrete with the water in my metal cup and crawling through bushes for entertainment, your mother was trading with her friends for their little boy belts and ties.  You’re not getting any pity from us.  That might have sounded a little harsh, like I don’t plan to buy you adorable soft things and tiny guitars.   I will.  Grandma might not (no, seriously, stop hoping) but your mother and I want you to have more to play with than the compost and the mole holes.  Unfortunately, the dog has other ideas.

Vegas, we’ll probably never remember to tell you these stories. The bits and pieces of your incubation – how we were terrified of childbirth classes but not of childbirth, how we first refused to have a shower and then had to go out and buy more thank you notes, how we danced in the kitchen on the good days, singing to songs we picked just for you.  But, there’s one story we won’t have to tell you because it will play out every christmas and birthday.  The title of the story is LEAVE IT and the star character is your dog, Moses.

Here is how it goes: We have been writing dozens of thank you notes.   And since I’m a visual person, I need to see each of those gifts pulled from their gift bags and associated with a name in order to write a lovely note.  And of course, I love to ooh and ahh over the pretties our friends have given you.  As your lovely little cheeks are about to find out, everything that comes into the house gets gently inspected by Moses…with his tongue.  If it’s soft, if it even suggests a stuffed animal or a squirrel, there’s more than an inspection, there is some hard sniffing, absentminded snortling and a stealthy attempt to sneak it out of the bag.  And as you’ll see, everyone gave you lovely, soft things (some of which resemble squirrels) and oh boy, do we have a problem on our hands.  Vegas, you’ll be lucky if we can get the dog to LEAVE IT before you get here.  But you’re not that lucky child, no one is.   So instead of the vacuum, or white noise, you’re going to fall asleep to LEAVE IT MOSES. MOSES, LEAVE IT. DAMMIT MOSES LEAVE IT LEAVE IT.

Hand-crocheted blankets, teensy soft wash clothes, a stuffed cow from Doha, a too-velvety dog, every.single.outfit, towels, knitted caps, teething rings, pacifiers. All of them. LEAVE IT! I’m afraid we’re going to lose this battle, baby. But as long as you don’t mind LEAVE IT LEAVE IT LEAVE IT you should be okay.

Baby Shower

You’ve never met two people who worked so hard not to get gifts.  Gifts!  Who doesn’t want presents?!  I know, we’re lunatics.  And we do want gifts.  We do.  Somewhere around the sixth month it started to sink in that, even with the extremely generous donations from our friends,  we were still going to need things.  And we expected to buy them.  But that’s a lot of things!  Those of you with babies are already shaking your heads.  I know.  I know!

Having a baby is like getting having a Wii.  Sure, it’s fun to look at and you can even enjoy it a little, but it needs ten thousand accessories to live up to its potential.   That’s right Vegas, I compared you to a game system.

At any rate, we’ve spent the better part of this pregnancy dreading a shower.  I just about die thinking of a bunch of people watching me (or her) opening gifts.  I’m the sort who can stand up and give a presentation just as smooth as can be in front of anyone you please but I can’t abide being watched.  You know.  Looked at.  Observed.  Gives me the fits.

But showers are like the semis of gift giving parties.  They will barrel you over.  They do not care if you are rescuing a puppy.  Better to just get the hell out of the road.  So we’re giving in in the interest of having some control.  We caved to my sister early on who has insisted that a virtual shower is acceptable in my family since we are located nowhere near each other.  Whether or not that’s appropriate has faded from discussion.  Just today we finally buckled under office tradition and agreed to one at work.  Yes, we work together.  No, it isn’t weird.  Mostly.

I can’t express to you my simultaneous terror that no one will show up and, if they do, that they will look at me or try to speak to me.  I have to prepare for this sort of thing now.  I only have a month and I’m not sure that’s enough time.  I’m going to rely on my wife to draw the small talk and soothing pats from the depths of her soul, because I cannot carry us on this one.  I’m also trying to think of it this way: the first time Vegas gives me lip about not going to that slumber party,  I’m going to give him a hug and take him out for ice cream instead.

February 14

Happy Valentine’s Day, Vegas.

You may think I’m late but you just haven’t caught the hang of the family yet.  Valentine’s Day lasts as long as it takes to listen to the mix CD you mother gives me.  Don’t worry, there will still be a box of chocolates.  Mostly this is because your mothers would prefer to spend their days lounging in stacks of boxed chocolates.  Vegas, she snatched a coconut one out of my hand yesterday and ate it before I even had a chance to complain I didn’t want it.  And just a word of advice, you’re going to need to move fast if you want one of those caramel ones.

Valentine’s Day even starts a bit early around here – often in October and sometimes even earlier – when we decide what the theme of this year’s mix will be.  Last year, we exchanged anthologies of our lives.  One year, we used the four seasons as our inspiration.  (And yes, there are still four even though winter is sucking all the life out of the other three this year.)  So each year we pick a theme, start collecting music and then swap on Valentine’s day.  It’s better than any other gift she could give me.  This year we picked music for you.

We decided to pick music you should know.  Songs we sing, songs that mean/t a lot, songs that play on repeat in the kitchen, songs that are Important.  As usual, we have very loose guidelines for these things.  The joy in swapping music is that song selection nearly always has a story, a sentiment.  We trade laughter and reasons why and I always marvel at our range of preference.  We may like different music, but there’s overlap and between the two of us we cover just about everything – including polka.  But we don’t talk about that Vegas.  Not outside the house.

We’ve had to adjust to commuting together for a ridiculously short five minutes which is great for spending time with you but really isn’t enough time to listen to our respective compilations.  Sometimes the joy of the gift is popping a disc in to listen and just feeling the sound and intention of the music (we tried loading playlists for each other one year, but it didn’t have the oomph we liked) but this year we listened together in the kitchen alternating songs and throwing in stories to go along with.  Since these songs are for your education, each song has been something we know and, usually, love.  It was fun to listen, sing and dance with your mother, thinking of you and the songs we want you to know.

For me, the best part was our overlap.  Sometimes we picked similar songs by the same artist for the same reasons. And in at least one case, (we aren’t done listening yet!) we picked the same song for the same reason. I hope you eventually laugh as hard as I did at the mix of music we’re passing to you and I hope you let your mother dance with you in the kitchen just like I do.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Vegas.

Well, thank you very much.

D being pregnant has been a lot different from her trying to be pregnant.  Right.  I know.  You’d think I’d have figured that out by now.  In the FIFTH month.  I think…  And, I did figure it out (not the month thing, no, dream on) but the jealousy part.  You heard me.  I’ve known I was jealous for months and I didn’t tell you.

Don’t be jealous of my jealousy.

When she was trying to conceive, she filled me in on every last sensation.  I got great detail on what was swollen or achy, lumpy or pale.  The night Vegas sank his blastocyst teeth into her uterine lining, I got a thesaurus worth of description.  In fact, I’m still hearing about that.  I wanted to carry this baby ten thousand times over and each symptom and sign got me a smidge closer to knowing how she felt.

It’s hard to keep that sort of thing up over nine months (ten?).  And in the middle here, there’s not much going on.  He’s moving a lot and he’s causing all sorts of aches and pains.  And he’s doing that today.  And tomorrow.  And you get the idea.  I’ve felt a nagging frustration that she’s feeling the baby and I can’t do anything but watch them get more in sync.   This is compounded by hearing more than a fair share of anecdotes lately about how babies only want mom to put them down, or only mom can do the feeding, or that mom has some mysterious bond with baby that no one can ever approximate.  Way to go, everyone, thanks for making me feel completely irrelevant.  Unless, of course, I want to rub her feet, bring her ice cream, or do all the housework/cooking/repairs/cleaning/shopping/adoring while she sits upon a throne of pillows cuddling the child.

I haven’t wanted to mention it, partly in fear that giving the feelings voice would make them more permanent and, in turn, make me more frustrated.  It turns out there’s a temporary vaccination though.  It doesn’t cure the jealousy, but it keeps it from getting worse and makes the symptoms seem a little better for a while.

I felt him kick.

I don’t want go on about no other feeling and so on and so forth but wow – I got to feel him kick.  Thanks kid, I’ll turn the thermostat back up now.

Cozy Toasty Balmy Flushed Thermal Snug

Vegas,

This morning I pressed right up against your mother and relished 10 more minutes of warmth.  Sure, I was happy to be cuddling and filled with awe at you and the growing belly tucked under my arm, but mostly I was happy to be warm.  In fact, I was almost too warm but I was perfectly happy to stay where I was because it was hot.  I could have been sweating outright and I wouldn’t have moved.  All I could think was Hot?  Check.  Not moving. We were late to work.  But not for that reason.  We were late because no matter how tightly I plastered myself next to her, I was still cold.

I hate to admit this to you – after all, you’re still a glimmer in our eyes and we want to make a good impression.  But, two nights ago, we went to sleep when the house was 55 degrees.  We turned on the fan, as we usually do, and tried to sleep in our corner bedroom.  Those two exterior walls leached the last heat from the room (and us).  When I woke up (or rather got up, since I’d been awake off and on all night) and staggered to the shower, I saw that the temperature had dropped to 48 degrees.  Yes, Vegas, I made your mother sleep in a bedroom that was under 50 degrees.  Wikipedia says 46 degrees is an ideal fridge temp.  No doubt you thought you were in the veggie drawer.

I didn’t do this because I wanted to ice you (or your mother) but I had a dose of chilling reality when I opened the gas bill and realized we owed them 300 dollars.  You’re young yet, sunshine, but $300 is not something we take lightly.  We clip coupons.  We’re not spending $300 on heat in 30 days.  You’ll be wiping with 2 ply, I’m just saying.  So $300?  Way more than we expected and more than twice what we paid the month before.  We can afford it, but we won’t be able to afford both it and daycare.  So, unless you’re planning to be out working at the very mature age of six months, we’re in real trouble when next winter comes.

I’m not saying don’t get a job child, just wait til you can walk first.

So I admit it, I froze us all out because I panicked.  Vegas, this has been the coldest winter in decades and no one here remembers this much snow.  Ever.  Sorry kid, you missed the big, exciting winter that everyone is going to talk about for the rest of your childhood.  You know, “Oh remember the winter of 2010 (it’s twenty ten, son)?  I’ve never seen anything like it before or since!”  And then they’ll probably pinch your cheeks and tell you to get their iPhone.  I even made your mother call the gas company and they assured her that the reading was right and that it was just a very cold month.  Again, I’m sorry you’re missing out.  I saw a great snowman yesterday.

Resolve hardened, I made your mother huddle in a chair until it was time to huddle in bed and then we huddled together, just short of shivering, remembering the time grandma made us sleep in The Hole.  You’re going to hear about The Hole, Vegas, but don’t tell grandma that’s what we call her Wyoming basement when she makes us sleep in it in the middle of winter.  We’re having you as insurance against her.  Just so you know.  I can’t take another year of sleep in subzero temperatures.

It took me a full 48 hours to get warm again and then I turned the heat back up to a respectable 60.  I don’t know how we’re going to afford both you and heat, baby doll, but we’re going to have to work it out.  We’ll make it somehow.  I’m sure this isn’t the first time I’ll go to sleep thinking I can’t really take care of you.  For the record, your room stayed warm, even with the vent shut.  You might have the coziest spot in the house.

Enjoy it while you can.
Your mother, the heat miser.