Thursday, August 30, 2007

State of Denial

One of the joys of post-pregnancy is navigating the bureaucracy of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). While this law was put into place to ensure that people can take care of family business without being penalized, it has its downside. In my case, I have to exhaust my sick leave while on maternity leave, then I can elect to stay on leave without pay for up to 3 months.

Leave without pay???! Yeah, right. I've been with my current employer 2 years, and have accrued only 3 weeks of sick time. Lucky for me, the ol' Snapper was born a week early and healthy. In the meantime, my health insurance was up for summer enrollment, meaning I could make changes to coverage etc. I decided that it would be a smart move to enroll in short term disability, in case, Heaven forbid, one of us gets sick in the next year.

I had to fill out a handy dandy Evidence of Insurability form, and send it off to Dallas. Apparently, being honest on your form gets you absolutely NOWHERE, because today I found out that I was DENIED coverage.

I have to admit, I'm not used to being denied. And who wants to be denied anyway? I've been pretty lucky when it comes to jobs - I've gotten all I've applied for. So denial is something that I'm not really used to. Of course I've been denied credit before, but I can get over that. The last time I was truly denied was when I first applied to graduate school. That was a hard pill to swallow. (They failed to tell me that they denied everyone who applied to the program that year, since the director's position was vacant). I spent a year feeling sorry for myself.

Being denied insurance coverage makes you feel pretty low too. When I called the company to find out exactly WHY I'd been denied, I found out it was because I was pregnant when I applied.
"But I'm not pregnant now..." I told the person on the phone.
"I'm sorry - we can't insure you until you go back to work, and we can't guarantee that we'll insure you then." said the very unhelpful person.

So, I've been denied. One more thing they DON'T tell you about AFTER you have a baby.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Night and Day

They say that one of the worst things that can happen is to have a baby get her nights and days mixed up. Fortunately, that hasn't happened much with the Snapper. (I'm knocking on wood right now.) Of course, I consider 5 am to be the middle of the night, but she doesn't. I think she's going to be a night owl like her daddy. She stays up and has a midnight snack then usually hits the sack until 5 or so.

Just so you know, there isn't much on T. V. at 5 am. TV land shows reruns of Star Trek and there are some infomercials. I usually just turn on the early morning news and listen to the traffic reports for deep East Texas.

When I was a kid, there was always one person you could count on for early morning news- Horace McQueen. Old Horace hit the air waves promptly at 6 am for the Farm and Ranch report. Being a city girl and all, I didn't much care about the price of alfalfa, but somehow his gravely East Texas twang made me feel like all was right with the world. Must have had an impact on others too (Check out the link above).

Speaking of night and day, I was commenting to Scott about my desire to have breakfast for dinner, and poof! I got my wish. (See photo above). My poor sleep deprived husband - who is the only one actually having to get dressed each day and go to a job - made me a fabulous dinner of french toast and veggie omelet. YUM YUM. I am one lucky girl.

Tonight is a lunar eclipse. According to the early morning news, it should begin about 4 a.m. I am secretly hoping that the baby and I get to see it. I can't believe that I would hope for such an early wake up call- I guess having nights and days a little mixed up can be a good thing sometimes after all.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Clothes Horse

I was never much of a clothes horse growing up. My parents might think otherwise, but I was way more into accessories -earrings, bracelets, shoes, hats - than clothes. I think back on my high school wardrobe and after going through the "black period", I pretty much limited my wardrobe to t-shirts and jeans.

In college, I decided to dress only in neutrals. Drab army green, brown, various shades of gray and black was the palette I chose. I bought a pair of converse chuck taylor low tops in army green and spent several hours "aging" them until they were the perfect faded shade.

When I hit graduate school, I gave up jeans for dresses. I wore dresses almost exclusively ( I think that might have helped me snag Scott). After I got married and put on a few extra pounds, I traded dresses for capri pants. Now that I've had the baby, I see another clothing era in my future. I used to hate empire waist shirts, and shirts with v-necks. Now, because that's what I've worn for the past 9 months, I'm actually okay with showing a little cleavage. I'm in that awkward, inbetween period right now, due to the fact that I've lost 30 pounds in 2.5 weeks. My body is totally different than it ever was, so I'm not sure what is going to look right once I venture out of the safety of too big maternity clothes.

I started thinking about all of this as I changed Rees out of her 3rd onesie of the day. A crusty baby with bad milk breath is too much to bear, so I find myself changing her pretty often. Thankfully, she has A LOT of options for clothes right now. Smack Bauer and I spent about 4 hours going through this glamour girls new wardrobe. The thing about baby clothes is that they grow so fast, sometimes they only wear something once or twice. Thankfully, I have some super good friends who have given me some fabulous clothes and a lot of great hand me downs for her.

Motherhood, I think has made me pretty introspective. I read an article on slate about the state of little girl clothes. It's pretty crazy what they are selling for kids these days. Girls, especially, are being over-sexualized at a very tender age. Its a far cry from the Garanimals, Underoos, and keds I wore when I was in grade school. I'm hoping that I can maybe the pendulum of fashion will swing the other way by the time Rees in in school. I'm pretty sure that won't happen, but I can hope. In the meantime, I'll be trying to figure out my next fashion move, and plotting how to keep Rees in appropriately sweet little girl clothes forever.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Conspiracy Theory

I have admit, I've never been much of a conspiracy theorist. I'm not a big fan of sci-fi either When we added Roswell to our summer vacation itinerary, I was skeptical.

Since the baby came I've become a believer. Not in aliens, presidential assassination plots or Bigfoot, but the conspiracy theory to suppress information about what happens AFTER the hospital.

It could be that I've been staying up (or finding myself up) bleary eyed, trying to stuff a giant bosom in the mouth of a squalling babe. At 2 a.m. my television choices are somewhat limited, and after I've had my fill of The Andy Griffith Show, I've found that I've landed on back to back episodes of the Twilight Zone, followed by the X-files. Now, I'll admit that being sleep deprived adds to the surrealness of the situation, but I do think that the truth about postpartum is out there - I just am beginning to find it.

Myth Number 1:
As soon as the baby is placed on your tummy you'll forget the pain of labor and instantly be happy happy.

Truth: It hurts. A lot. After 12 hours of trying to squeeze a watermelon out of a toothpaste tube, you're tired, sweaty, hungry and gross. Don't get me wrong, I was very glad to meet the little snapper, but my main concern was that she was happy, healthy and had all of her parts. A lot of books browbeat women into breastfeeding in first hour after delivery, but in my opinion, that may not be an option for everyone. After the pictures and cell phone calls, I was glad that she was carried away into the hands of the VERY capable nursery staff. Especially since it took the doc another hour to sew me up down there.

Myth Number 2:
Real women do it without pain killers or episiotomies.

However it happens is the right way. I had to have some pain relief or I would have permanently injured Scott's hands. At one point I was squeezing them so hard he swore I was trying to hurt him. I've read in a lot of books that episiotomies aren't really necessary. I had two-
and I still tore in what they call a 4th degree . I had the massages, the controlled pushing, and it still happened.

Myth Number 3
Breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world

Breast feeding sucks. Literally. But I think its the right think for the snapper, so we are going to stick with it. The first few days she was so out of it that it was difficult to wake her up enough to latch on. When she finally did wake up, she was mad as hell that she had been evicted from her comfy cozy apartment in my body. She let me know it by wanting to suck anything (my fingers, her fingers, the dog's leg) except what she needed to. We've gotten past some of those issues, but each feeding is still a new day for her and me. I've tried everything, cut out coffee after 4 pm, cut out ice cream and milk, drank beer, wine and popped pills.. nothing seems to make sense.

Myth Number 4
You only really need to stay in the hospital 3 days.

When my mom had me in the 1970s, a 10 day hospital stay was normal. As much as I hate hospitals, I think that would be amazing to have someone take care of me and the baby for 10 days. There is a lot of grossness that happens with having a baby...and it keeps spewing forth for a long time after you leave the hospital. Two days after we came home, I was back in the ER, unable to function down there. They drained out half a gallon of urine and I was begging for a take home catheter. The idea of going to the bathroom is still very scary - I had NO IDEA that it would be like that.

Now I thank God for sitz baths, fiber pills and maxi pads the size of place mats. One true girlfriend brought over a can of the "red stuff" - a cooling spray for down there that helps numb things. She stuck it through the cat door, with a note attached. It all seemed very covert to me, although I think she was just trying not to disturb us. Yet it smacks of spy tactics seen in conspiracies if you ask me.

So, nearly two weeks out what have I learned...I think that there is a conspiracy to keep all the yucky stuff quiet after a baby is born. If it wasn't kept quiet, folks might just stop doing it altogether and then where would society be? There aren't any books called "The Girlfriend's Guide to Bringing Home Baby" or "What to Expect Your Pain Level to Be, when You bring Home the Snapper". I have a sneaky suspicion that the same folks who aren't talking about menopause are the ones not talking about postpartum. Folks with moms who have gone through menopause know what I am talking about...

All I know is this.. the truth is out there - I just wish I wasn't up at 4 am looking for it!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Make new friends...

Well, its been a week and a day, and I am just now getting into some sort of swing of things. I realize when I left you last, dear readers, that I was on the verge of the life changing experience of having a baby. I promise to blog all about that 12-hour blessed event soon, mainly because I don't want to forget it, but also because I want Rees to read what happened someday.

I just read Smack Bauer's blog, and she pretty much summed up how I've been feeling about facing the computer postpartum. However, I've had so many good things happen in the past few weeks that I decided to swallow hard and jump back in. So bear with me...

There was a song we learned the during my brief tenure as a Brownie.. I'm not sure exactly how it went, but I do know that it had the line "Make new friends, but keep the old. Some are silver and the others gold." (Hey I just found the song in its entirety... I don't think I ever knew all the verses) Anyway, that's how I've felt the last few months before this baby is born. I've learned a lot of new things in the last nine months, but the thing that's been the most important to me is that I am learning about the kind of friend I want to be.

Everyone's overwhelming kindness, concern, friendship and camaraderie has blown me away. I used to think that I was a pretty good friend most of the time, but I've realized that I only touched the tip of the friend iceberg. So now, thanks to many of my friends, both new and old, the bar has been raised. Forgive me for being sappy, but I need to share a few of the things that have shown me the kind of friend I want to be and the kind of friend I want my tiny little baby to be:
  • two childhood friends waited for over 5 hours to meet Rees Landry Runnels at the hospital. They weren't in the delivery room, but had their ear to the door nearly the entire time. Of course I didn't get to see this, but the image is priceless. Apparently they shocked the nurse as she left my room and they went tumbling away from the door.
  • Another friend, spent several hours helping me sort through mountains of hand me down baby clothes, making decisions on what to keep and what to donate. When we found a box that needed to be washed, she whisked it away, bought baby detergent and laundered and folded the clothes for me. This same friend lent me nearly all my maternity clothes and even gave me the shoes out of her closet to accommodate my very swollen feet. All the while she was dealing with her own health issues.
  • Some new friends, somehow psychically sensing that I didn't feel like cooking, brought over a super yummy and comforting home-made casserole today. I was truly moved that they would think of us, especially since they too have a LOT going on.

Those are just a few of the acts of kindness that our friends have shown over the past weeks. We've received so many thoughtful, touching gifts that it really is overwhelming. I can't believe the tremendous effort so many people have put into giving us things to feather our new nest. Just to name a few:

  • We received a darling handmade outfit for Rees in the mail from a far away friend. The outfit was made of vintage fabric and buttons, but the best part was that it was hand made with such care.
  • Another indispensable gift we received was a teddy bear that has a "heartbeat" that helps get Rees (and me) to sleep each night. We couldn't live without teddy right now.
  • Some of our hip friends spend a lot of time seeking out the coolest of the cool gifts and gave Rees a set of baby board books that will make her the envy of the neighborhood. Those, coupled with the most fun little froggy slippers I have ever seen, remind me that giving a great gift is truly an art form.

There are so many more acts of kindness and care - Belgian chocolates and flowers in the hospital, grape snow cones on hot days when I've been stuck in the house, phone calls, emails and so much more.

But the best gift of all, by far, is the learning the kind of friend I want to be.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Twas the night before

Do you remember the night before the first day of school? If you were like me, you'd have your clothes laid out, your lunch packed and you were already to go.. except for one thing...

You laid in bed nervous with anticipation about what the next day would bring, your eyes wide open with sleep being an illusive concept.

That's how tonight feels. Dad wanted all of us (meaning mom, him, Scott, my sister, my brother in law and my niece, Annabelle) to go out to dinner. He was pretty persistent about it, even though I didn't exactly feel hungry. I think he was trying to mark today as a special occasion. He missed out on the events leading up to my sister's delivery - he was in ICU.

So, tomorrow is the first day of the rest of my life so to speak. I'm giddy with anticipation and nervous and fighting sleep. I've done all the cleaning and preparing and packing one gal can do.

I'll keep you posted on what happens next...

Monday, August 6, 2007

On pins and needles

I'm on pins and needles, waiting for this baby thing to happen. Every time I do something - run to the store, go to the post office - I think this may be the last time I do this without a baby. I've been nesting for sure, doing weird deep cleaning stuff like rearranging junk drawers. I need to do some vacuuming too, but that will have to wait until tomorrow.

Today I had my first round of acupuncture that is supposed to move the baby along. It had been a long time since I had been "stuck", so it was a new sensation. Unfortunately, the acupuncture room was also the only room in the doctor's office with a bathroom, so a calvalcade of folks paraded by me. Most pretended not to see me - How can you miss a nearly 200 pound woman with needles sticking out of her legs? One curious girl, about 5 years old, asked what was happening to me. She didn't stick around for an answer.

I'm in for more pins and needles tonight as the dreaded carpal tunnel sets in and my hands go numb. One good thing- at least that will end when the baby gets here, and I'm able to reclaim my body.

Oh well, it will all be worth it. I'm just ready to trade these pins and needles for some diaper pins!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

You put your left foot in....

Since this is my first foray into the wonderful world of blogging, I feel a little tentative. It may be because this summer I've become addicted to the blogs of my friends and some strangers too that now seem like old friends. Questions like: Can I be that witty? and Why would anyone want to read anything I have to say? abound.

The best answer I've been able to come up with is this...the summer is almost over and my new little one is almost here and I have a lot I want to remember. So, I figure I should put some of these thoughts down before I become completely sleep deprived and bleary eyed.

So here goes.. I sort of imagine the opening scene of the Mary Tyler Moore Show running in the back ground...except instead of the original theme song playing, I'd have this version by Husker Du.