With a Mask?

In an unbelievable twist of fate, I have gotten a cold.  This is the only speck of illness either one of us has had since our knock-down drag-out fight with the flu in November.  Last night I said to my wife, “Do you think they let people with colds into delivery rooms?”  and I wasn’t overly concerned.  At that moment I was feeling just a tiny tickle in my nose.  Something not quite right.  And then, like that, my throat started to hurt.

We chalked it up to allergies.  I downed some preventative herbs.  We went to bed.

I knew the second I turned out the light that it was more than allergies.  I tossed and turned to try and find a position that would prevent any dripping onto my throat.  I tucked my head into my chin and drifted off.  Except, I didn’t.  I cried instead, and wondered if it was too late to call my mother.  These are two main signs that we’re dealing with a cold and not allergies.  1) I like to  keep my crying to hallmark moments and not to self-pity; and, 2) I don’t ever want my mother when I’m crying.  She, Mayor of Sunny Sunshineville, is not very fond of tears.  So it was probably better that it was too late in her time zone to call.

This morning, I woke to painful swallowing and a runny nose.  I tried every resource I have.  Neti pot.  Herbs.  Gargling.  Tea.  Zinc.  Vitamin C.  Vitamin everything else.  Throat soothers.  Sheer will.  I am only getting worse.  Now I really am wondering, “Do you think they let people with colds into delivery rooms?”

And I’m stricken.

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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.

Grocery List

Maybe it’s being female (and all the cultural expectations that society puts on little girls, but let’s not get started) but I’ve spent most of my life thinking about how I’ll parent.  Without even meaning to, I catch myself thinking –  How would I handle that?  What would I say?  No no, not that.  Definitely NOT THAT..but maybe this.  And so on.  D and I do that together too – What would you do if Vegas did that?  Really?  That sounds good.  Now what if he does THIS? And so on.  We did this with the dog.  We’re STILL doing it with the dog.

Which brings me to this awesome post by someone who is not me.  And it’s even more awesome because of the Coors Light and the eleven year old.  I can’t wait to be a parent.

Shower

You have never heard two people protest a shower as much as we did.  No, we don’t want anyone to get us gifts.  No, we don’t need anything.  Yes, we can buy  it ourselves.  No, we don’t want you to spend your money.  No, we don’t want games.  Yes, we know that people expect it.  No, we don’t need a cake.  Or balloons.  Or sparkling cider.  No, we don’t want to make our colleagues feel like they have to come, have to bring something.  No, we don’t want to ask people to send something when we can’t throw a party to thank them.  Yes, we mean it.

I don’t think we’re that unusual.   I’ve heard so many people say that they didn’t want to play the games and didn’t want to be the center of attention that I didn’t think we’d be depriving people of the experience.  Of course, people love babies and want to celebrate their arrival, and we’d never say no to a gift, we just didn’t want to explicitly ask for them.  We didn’t have a bridal shower either, but the gifts showed up after we sent announcements.  Those gifts were lovely and appreciated and a complete surprise.  I thought a baby might be more of the same.

Despite our protestations, we ended up with two showers.  One, virtual, came at the hands of my sister who hand-made invites and send them to family and friends who can’t be with us (since almost all of our friends and family are more long-distance than driving distance).  We insisted that she ask only for our friends to send advice, but then she tacked that registry info on there anyway.  Although I feel a little shameful about it, I’ll admit that the gifts we’ve received have been an enormous help.  The other shower, a work event, we consented to only after a word of advice from a close colleague.  He recommended that we take a second look at the shower from an activist point of view.  Although we work in a relatively liberal pocket of the state, a gay baby shower is a happy, voluntary celebration that both gives people the chance to eat cake and quietly demonstrates that gay couples are just like straight couples in so many ways – they laugh, celebrate, toast, hug, open gifts and have children.  In the end, I felt like having not having a shower would make us feel more different and that’s not the goal.

Regardless of our shower whining, we had a beautiful celebration.  There were platters of fruit and cheese (thank god someone else wants to feed my wife’s melon habit), a lovely cake, many, many gifts and a few dozen happy folks.  I am constantly in awe of how honored I am to work in this place, with these people, as cheesy as that sounds.  Now, to work on the unbagging.  Does anyone want a free gift bag?

Lady and the Tramp

I’ve been grappling with the idea of childbirth preparation classes for months now.  First, it was fear and uncertainty.  Will it be okay if we wait for information about labor and the hospital instead of knowing right now? Then it was excitement.  I can’t wait to get some baby learnin’! Then dread.  What if we don’t make any friends? And then, in a horrifying turn, back to fear again.  What if they are mean to us because we’re gay?

Well, isn’t that something.  I have never in my life been ashamed of who I was.  There have been times when it has been safer to choose a different path.  Safer to let someone assume I was Canadian, or straight, or didn’t speak the language.  But in my daily life, I’m just who I am.  I choose to assume the risk that someone won’t like me or will feel offended by my choices.  It happens.  It’s not within my control.

Being myself IS in my control though and so I quickly slipped from fear to shame last week as we walked into our childbirth class.  My stomach was tied in knots from the perceived glare of the ten straight couples and I was disappointed and ashamed of myself for not being confident regardless of the looks on their faces or the whispers behind hands.  I was ashamed that I wanted to be anyone but myself.  Anywhere but there.

I couldn’t shake the sensation of being stared at or the feeling of being unwelcome.  But in the back of my head my mother was scolding me not to let the opportunity to learn be wasted.  That woman doesn’t understand feeling marginalized or the subtle fear of a dark parking lot filled with sneering men.  But, she (as usual) has a point and I made every effort to refocus and take what I could from the class.

Now that a few days have passed, I’m surprised to look back and realize that I wasn’t offended in the slightest by the hetero-focus of the class.  I consider myself a visitor in their straight world and so it’s okay if I have to do a bit of translation for myself.  I am surprised at how deeply the gender roles confused me.  But I’m one of the “ladies”!  We’re both the “mom”.  It was hard to work past that and get to the information.

Hopefully, this Thursday will be better.  I wouldn’t ever want to skip these classes and I wouldn’t miss the opportunity for D and I to have the best birth possible.  So we’ll get through it, regardless of who is the lady.

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.