30 Months: 2.5 in Weasel Years

Dear Miriam,

I'm so sorry I missed the opportunity to report on this month. You've been absolutely delightful and a breath of fresh air in a tough time. You are also exhausting.

Downtime is nonexistant now, every minute is about interaction and conversation. You can play by yourself, but then there's something you want to know or understand and the dialogue begins. And the downtime comes crashing to a hault.

My favorite development this month? Your new song:

Hi Hi how do you do
Welcome to My Gym
Hyeah hyeah Have some Cake
Now it's time to begin

I'm pretty sure the My Gym welcome song doesn't mention cake, but there you go, filling in the words as necessary, singing along.

You've also decide to call me Mama. It's still Mommy when things get desperate, but by and large you've decided Mama's the word. Funny girl.

This month we also discovered the cool slide. The Esmeralda Slide is just around the corner from home, yet we haven't made it there since before you were paying attention. One morning we said, let's go see a cool slide, and you fell in love. Whenever we drive by, you exclaim, Is that the cool slide?! You go down with us, and next to us, but it's still a bit big to tackle on your own.

You're also hugging now. Big tight hugs that we can't get enough of. I think you learned to hug a long time ago, but for a while hugs were beyond oppressive. Mana would admonish you, lightly, after a while you would announce I'm stingy with my hugs as you refused us. But now you dish them out, and sometimes they're even long ones, and we relish every millisecond.

You also enjoyed your big adventure to Boston this month, on which your Dad so lovingly reported. A week after your return, your cousins came here to visit and we enjoyed a day at the Exploratorium. I'm not sure which you loved more, seeing the floating ball from your Goodnight, San Francisco book or seeing your beloved cousin Daniel.

Miriam, thank you for the light you bring to us every day.

Love you,
Your Mama



Terminated for Lack of Progress

This is the thing I debated when we decided to tell anyone outside our immediate family, much less blog about it. But alas, we are now 1:5 in the pregnancy game: according to today's ultrasound, this one stopped progressing about a week ago.

I have a lot more to say on this and I'm sure the sadness and rage will come, but right now I'm perversely feeling that at least this didn't go to 10-12 weeks again, or longer. I'm also feeling that going through anything like this in a city of any size is a lot easier because one is reminded early and often that one cannot choose one's tragedy. We are more lucky than even we, who count our blessings in relation to many types of hardship, can imagine.

People ask us why we would want to go any further in this process, and I think about this, too. But to know someone as intimately as we know MZ is such a rare joy, how can we not want to try for that again?



Trot Trot to Boston (by Daddy R)

So the flight to Boston was, to be totally truthful, uneventful. I’d like to bitch, moan and complain about my daughter who turned into devil-spawn above 35000 feet, but it didn’t happen. She tells me when she’s hungry, she tells me when she has to go potty and she’s fun to “have a conversation” with. I taught her that turn of phrase during the trip and we had lots of “conversations” (smile). We had a great flight, but I did count the hours.

On past flights, A would announce every hour that we had one hour less to our destination. I thought that was odd. On this flight, I totally got it. By the way, if I sound like a dilettante, I was when I started this trip. I’m not anymore: I lost several pounds because I didn’t eat a full meal the whole week, I limited alcohol to maybe a drink despite the constant party atmosphere of a family reunion-week and I was on call all the time for basically eight days straight. Even when relatives were there to give me a break, I was in a constant state of heightened awareness. A couple times I wasn’t sure who had MZ and ran around frantically looking for her. A big bald guy looking for his daughter gets attention quick and her whereabouts were usually determined in one minute or less. I’m not complaining in any way, but I’ve got a new appreciation for what SAHMs do every day and even more for what single parents do. Wow. And I really had it easy: as I said, MZ is an easy kid. I also have a new sense of pride that has nothing on succeeding in work or other non-child-related adventures: I can take care of my kid! WOW!

So anyway I counted the hours on the flight:
- Hour 1 we played games in our seats and had various parts of our meal from Peets. I learned along the course of the week that MZ will most likely eat most things that she has personally requested in due time. If she asked for it, she’ll want it sooner or later. She’s kind of like a cat to my dog-ness. If it’s there, I eat it. If I’m done or I’ve stopped eating, take it away dammit. Not so with MZ. If she wanted it and it disappears before she’s said so, there’s hell to pay. I’m a chucker, so I paid some hell this week. Not sure where she got that particular trait, but anyway, MZ got around to the muffin and fruit from Peets here and there over the course of the flight and finally rejected only a few pieces of honey dew (I would have too, the stuff was flavor-less).
- Hour 2 we went potty and then walked around the plane. She had 0 accidents this entire trip (all eight days!!), because she is…a camel. Her mother is a camel. I have a bladder only slightly larger than our good friend V’s, Henry’s dad. I’ve seen thimbles that hold more than V’s bladder. My bladder is more like a shot glass. MZ’s bladder is more like one of those extra large beer glasses you get at bars with a “Mc” in the name (“Shooter McNally’s”, “Likker McFallingDownDrunker’s”, you get the idea). Anyway, she’s got at least a 40-ounce bladder so she goes potty like three times a day verses what used to be hourly diaper changes. Which makes for lots of flexibility in the day, further enabled by the folding port-a-potty that A found and we pack in the diaper bag. Really, it’s the only thing in the rather full diaper bag that actually gets used these days, and it could fit in my backpocket (well, almost). But back to touring the plane: we met some sisters a few rows back and colored with them, we chatted with many grandmas that had aisle seats and we bugged some first class passengers right by the silly curtain (I personally enjoyed that).
- Hours 3, 4 and 5 are a blur, but there was a long nap for both of us, some reading of the very little Chicken Soup with Rice collection, playing with her baby and associated accoutrements (daddy packed well for baby), and doing odd things to puppy with a seat belt (2 year olds are S&M freaks). There was NOT any Sesame Street on the DVD player on my Macbook. Or double earphones in my iPod. She didn’t want the electronic gear, which was good. She doesn’t know what a TV is really, other than for watching baseball with Papa, and the iPod is fun plugged into speakers, but earphones are not interesting to her.

So we arrived to find that our baggage hadn’t and would be on the next flight, coming in a couple hours. We thought about having it delivered, but when we got to the rental car place, the car we were assigned had a hub cap that was clearly going to spin off on the freeway at speed. After being assigned a new (and better!) car, we had less than an hour before our baggage arrived. She went potty in her port-a-potty in the parking lot of the car rental place (she’s potty trained, but with a limited “hold-it” window). Then we went into the airport, had a little snack (clam chowder from Legal Seafood is the best) and waited for the bags.

I go into this trudging detail to make the point that she was a trooper throughout. She entertained the crowd running puppy around the baggage carousel (again with the puppy S&M) and just generally enjoyed all aspects of being somewhere traveling.

And that was my first solo travel day with my daughter. I’ll do an update on the rest of the week with a bit less detail, but hopefully I’m giving the vibe that she’s a great travel companion and, though we missed Mama a LOT, we made the best of it, in no small part due to her willingness to make the best of it and rise to the occasion. Some folks would argue with me that a 2.5 year old doesn’t have that much conscious volition, but I saw numerous times over the course of the week that MZ consciously held it together or pulled it together when I would have expected a major melt down. I think it took tremendous energy and effort from her, but there are some subtle as well as not-so-subtle changes I can see in her now that we’re back: she’s got more confidence in trying some new things and she’s even more verbal in some areas than she was already.

Labels: ,


Countdown to Leap Year

The appointment went well! Sistah J and I waited in the exam room for 35 minutes, an eternity by this doctor's standards, which gave me lots of time to work up to a humming, electric stress level. SJ was an ocean of calm, thinking up tangent upon tangent to keep me occupied until he arrived. But everything looks as it should, no ectopic pregnancies (I hadn't even thought about that flavor of sideways), and my doc was clearly happy about what he saw, he graduated me out of the fertility clinic.

Due date? February 28/March 1st. Except 2008 is a Leap Year.



To Boston Together Alone (by Daddy R)

So at the last minute Daddy and MZ went on our annual July 4th trip back East WITHOUT Mama (as she is currently called -- occasional Mom and Mommy here and there, but mostly Mama). To go without Mama was a fearsome thing to consider, especially with only two days’ notice. I haven’t spent more than 12 hours alone with MZ in my life as far as I can calculate. Mama has spent exactly one night away from her daughter in close to 2.5 years. But, there we were. The point of the trip back East to visit my (our) family was to make sure we went back East to visit MZ’s multitudes of cousins every year until she could take up that ball for herself and run with it (to use a sports analogy). My sister and I continue to be amazed at the range of family we have back East. Since we didn’t really grow up with our father, we missed out on his wonderful family, but we’re making up for it now and we’re going to make sure MZ knows these folks as far back as she can remember.

So MZ and I embarked on our journey alone. And it’s very accurate to say that despite being together, we both felt very alone. Mama kinda holds things together when it comes to family. When it’s A and I, we’re equals, and, in fact, she’s the heavy duty planner, and I’m the uber-hyper on-the-ground guy, but Mama has definitely been the one to set the norms for our three-ness, and that’s ok – we’re all three comfortable with that. Until that goes away, on a moments’ notice. Sure we had Aunt D and Uncle S coming on Tuesday, and Bubbe and Uncle J coming on Wednesday, but it was Saturday at 5AM and my first extended playdate with my very own daughter was a trans-continental flight and we were, simply put, alone.

We walked into security and down the jetway after what I can only describe as one of the most heart-wrenching things I have personally ever witnessed (I’m normally sarcastic, even when serious, but, in all seriousness, no sarcasm here): a mother saying goodbye to her daughter, really, for the first time ever, and, further, that woman being my wife and love, and further, my having to not show emotion in order keep my daughter under control, despite the gravity of the reason for our having to be apart for the next week. It was awful.

So we walked on down to our gate and the nearby Peets and got us a muffin, some fruit a coffee-milk for MZ and a double capp for me (I’m being this detailed on the food for a reason -- more on that later). There was some drama prior to getting to the gate about our seating arrangement: apparently 2 year olds with their own seats can sit fifteen rows back from their daddy when daddy is Premier Exec and daughter is not. Just to show United the insanity of this, I considered leaving her back in steerage with her seatmates while I enjoyed four inches of extra leg room, but decided after all that we probably ought to sit together. The gate agent had the magical powers that the 800-number agent and the check-in agent lacked and we got two seats together in Economy Plus. I explained to MZ that this was a huge bonus for us, and she clearly got it, because I swear I saw her do one of those little eyeball-nyah-nyahs that we Economy Plussers do to the folks who are really sitting in steerage behind us without the four inches of extra legroom. I think she did it to a three year old and her mommy as they walked past our seat.

Anyway, we had the window and the middle, and we had MZ’s lightweight new car seat from Bubbe’s car rather than the pack-and-stroll, or whatever that odd airport-only seat-with-wheels is called. She was much more comfortable than on past flights and enjoyed a totally unobstructed view of EVERYTHING out the window (we don’t have to deal with the wing in Economy Plus either -- nyah nyah.). But I felt for our third seatmate on the aisle who asked incredulously at least twice where our third companion was as he clearly started to do the mental calculation on which was worse: third party to a DAD and baby or switch seats with the mommy, even if she’s in the middle seat in a row next to the bathroom. Brief aside: I noticed two things being a single parent dad and baby: (1) a mom and baby automatically strikes compassion into the hearts of fellow passengers while a dad and baby strikes abject fear: “Can this MAN really take care of a BABY??” and (2) since expectations are so low, most people will help at any time and I could really leave her anywhere and know that she would be by my side within seconds thanks to any helpful mom, dad, grandma or grandpa. So, as I dumped the stroller by the gate-check door and moved her carseat, two backpacks, a large carry-on and a tray full of Coffee-Fruit-Milk-Muffin back a few rows to our seat I just told her to stand at the front of the plane and I’d be back for her. And she developed a crowd of helpers within seconds. Which was great.

Good news about MZ having her own seat: two more carry-ons for her; bad news for me: one person cannot manage four carry-ons and a baby, and a tray full of hot food.

But anyway, our third seatmate finally seemed to accept that he was in it for the long haul with us and, on the plus side he was not going to have to move to a bad seat in steerage, so it sort of seemed that his mental math worked out to a positive number, and he was really very genial the whole flight. He was single and childless, but said he was a doting uncle to his 2-year old nephew, so I figured he was willing to give us the benefit of the doubt at that point. MZ settled into her chair and immediately started pointing out or asking about EVERYTHING she could see out the window and since most everything out there was either new to her or larger than she ever expected (she’s flown many times, but she’s more cognizant of the world now than she’s ever been) most everything she said, even statements of fact, ended in a question mark and required my feedback.

At this point, the whole single parent traveling with a toddler thingy became a shocking blast of cold air in the ass as if you lived in Minnesota in the winter and had just locked yourself outside the house in nothing but your bathrobe on a below freezing day in the snow while getting the paper from the porch. To explain: usually, when we’ve gotten on airplanes in the past, I’ve busied myself with manly on-the-ground-guy things like stowing the baggage in the overheads, securing extra blankets and pillows and figuring out which bags should go under which seat for ease of access in case someone shits themselves on takeoff – general busy-work that looks important but really takes up minimal brain power, while the Mama takes care of settling MZ in and making sure the flight starts on a positive note. I’ve always known it was busy work, but someone had to do it. Now I realize just how great I had it. I love organizing stuff. It’s second nature to me. So to get to do that while A deals with MZ is really a bonus. Sometimes I even wear my iPod doing it, while A glares at me.

Anyway, back to MZ, our resident breaking-news reporter: everything she saw needed to be commented upon, and there’s a lot to see when they’re loading up three planes in a row and doing work on the airport itself: trucks, baggage loaders and conveyors, several planes, all of which have WINGS! and TAILS! and those little extra wing THINGYS! that they’re putting on the ends of wings these days, and a DIGGER! or two, an occasional FIRE TRUCK! and even TINY PLANES!!, etc. Some of her observations were downright funny and made our seat mate laugh despite the earphones from his immediate application of his iPod while I looked jealously at him (I even made small talk about his iPod, like anyone makes small talk about an iPod anymore – “hey nice iPod Mini, they don’t make those anymore, huh? Real old school iPod.”) Stupid shit like that while we both laughed at MZ’s running commentary all the way through takeoff until we went into the fog and everything went white and she went SILENT….

….And then we broke through and it was 7AM on a beautiful sunny Saturday and we had five hours ahead of us, and she looked out the window and said “Clouds” and I said, “Yes, my love, but if you notice, we are ABOVE the clouds, not below. You’re seeing the tops of the clouds not the bottoms.” And she positively beamed at such an amazing concept and I realized that I was about to enjoy the incredibly rare gift of eight full days of seeing the world through the eyes of a toddler -- my toddler. And MZ and I both knew at that moment that, despite being alone, we’d be ok. And then we both relaxed and enjoyed the ride.

Labels: ,