Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A/B Testing

We do our best to keep to the "no screen time before age 2" rule, barring skype, but we make exceptions when Walter is sick, or when Mommy or Dadda is sick (or just exhausted.)  Mostly Henson-related with some other stuff thrown in as we discover it or recall it.  While Walter used to be content to just judge these videos as we presented them to him, lately he's been making requests, in particular the "ABs" or alphabet videos.  We've been diving deep into the Sesame archives, and turned up some real classics like ABCD-Cookie-Monster.  CTW/Sesame Workshop have a surprisingly diverse catalog of original alphabet tunes that manage to be catchy without distracting from the actual ABs – cool stuff like Kermit's African ABs with Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

Walter's not impressed by such novelty.  When Kermit (or Mhermie, as Walter pronounces it) starts, "Amazing!  Beautiful creatures dancing..." Walter supplies his own take on Bohemian Rhapsody.  "No, no, no, no, no, no, no."  Sometimes upset, but usually measured, resolute.  This boy is on a mission; canonical ABs only, please.  No extraneous lyrics.  Preferably sung by lovely young women.  Actually, that might be Walter's real mission.  India.Arie inspires a certain blissful look in his eyes, and he's granted Tilly and the Wall concessions unavailable to, say, Daddy or Richard Prior.

To what end all this ABing?  Well, he doesn't join in singing with us or the videos, but he gets this shy little smile that suggests he's biding his time until he can let it rip from start to finish.  Last night, in a fit of ecstatic bathing, he managed to recite the whole thing: ABABABBBBBBB-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh!  He even transcribed it with bath crayons, so we know he's serious about it.

If you haven't already heard, we've been getting so much mileage out of the sick/exhausted loophole because we've got another baby on the way!  Little Newbie is scheduled to arrive on August 30th, although I'm guessing that's just penciled in.  We're absolutely thrilled, but well into the second trimester, Walter's perennial ear troubles (currently experiencing a reprieve!) are joined by what seems to be worse morning sickness for Annie this time around.  More persistent, at least.  And, in the first of what I'm sure will be a million "Your brother Walter never did that..." observations that I intend to keep mostly to myself, I'm finding this pregnancy is a lot more tiring for me.  (Pregnancy is hardest on husbands, obviously.)  With Walter, when Annie was feeling out of commission, I could get the essentials covered, with only some minor slipping, like dishes stacking up in the sink.  But now the minor slipping could be Walter, slipping down the stairs.  So, we yield a little extra sleep in the name of constant vigilance.  Totally worth it.  Honestly, it's hard to sleep with that image in my head anyway.

One byproduct of my big case of the sleepies has been a hit to my productivity, already a bit tenuous to begin with.  Indeed, this was meant to be our baby announcement post, and here I am publishing – well, not at the final hour, but certainly later than traditional.  I was planning a long reflection on how becoming a bigger family would mean sharing our attention fairly (if not evenly) with Walter and Newbie, in all things, right down to blog posts.  But as time wore on, and Annie's excitement about Newbie grew to bursting – well, not literally bursting yet, just a cute bump – we decided we couldn't wait for a magnum opus.  And I'm glad we didn't.  As intentional and conscientious as we'll need to be with our time and resources as parents, and as incomparably comfy as a soft hand-me-down t-shirt is, it's nice we were able to start Newbie off with something entirely new and personal.

BTW, for my money, you can't beat Patti Labelle.  I mean, she's got AB right in her name.

Friday, March 22, 2013

It's better than that

There's a classic Lou and Peter Berryman song, embedded in my brain since my early early childhood, about how awesome it is to be an adult. The lyric that I remember best is "Take 50 grand/ To Disneyland/ It's better than that."  When I was a kid, the irony of this song (and all other Berryman songs, really) was pretty much lost on me.  I assumed that being an adult really was all dessert before dinner and going to bed whenever the heck you feel like it.  As I got older and took on more and more adult responsibilities, I realized ...

... it's true.  Being an adult is awesome.

Stay with me, here.  There are times when my belief in this truth is tested, even deeply shaken.  There have been several times this week, even.  Mostly we struggle with home ownership and and the endless list of things to do and fix and pay for, all priorities.  Money and house stuff have been very stressful, lately.  It hasn't helped that I've been so sick, which takes up a lot of my time and energy, leaving Sean to focus his time and energy on all these other adult worries.

But on Wednesday night we got home from Lenten midweek service, put Walter to bed, retrieved two perfect pieces of pie from their hiding place in our workshop/box room (project #482,) picked up some forks, went upstairs, got into bed and turned on the TV.

*Sigh of complete contentment*

As we snuggled in and did our best not to get crumbs in the bed, "It's better than that" played merrily on the accordion in my mind.  No irony.  Not in that moment, at least.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


So, we've got some news to share!  Many folks already know--our immediate family members, our congregation, our co-workers.  We put off the big Internet reveal until the time felt right, and it feels pretty right right now.  Also, I don't think it would have been a good idea for me to write anymore "I haven't left my bed all day; the dog is worried" posts without some explanation. No, it's not a terrible case of winter-related ennui ... OK, it's not ONLY winter-related ennui.  It's the tail end of the first trimester and the start of the second ... we're having a Newbie!

We found out, officially, about a week before Christmas.  Unofficially, I knew way, way before that.  I was so early in my pregnancy-related suspicions that I rushed the blood test (negative--too early) and a few days later got a positive home test at what might have been the first moment of a discernible trace of hCG. When she called with the results from the follow up bloodwork, Nurse B asked cautiously, "What did you say the date of your last cycle was?" I told her.  "Oh my goodness," she said, relieved. "These numbers are fine.  You're not even four weeks pregnant. Had a hunch, eh?" Eh indeed.

I don't know exactly what it was that prompted our decision to try again.  It was probably a good run of Walter sleeping through the night combined with the romance of late autumn in Wisconsin (when young parents' thoughts are turned to love and whether or not we should buy a snowblower this year ... yes to both, it turns out.)  Why another baby? Why now? Lots of reasons, many of them tough to sort out in my mind. The wonderfulness of Walter was a big contributing factor.  My ever-increasing appreciation of the value of siblings helped, too (a note to Sean's siblings, their spouses, and their children: this is all your fault for being so awesome.)  A clean bill of health and encouragement from all my doctors, including the nephrologist  who looked after me when Walter was born, also aided the cause.

So, we tried, and sooner than we imagined (but not sooner than we'd hoped) we got our Newbie.  I'd been planning to use one of my dad's favorite nicknames for me, Lemur, which is a wonderful nickname but didn't stick.  In the laughter and tear-filled glow of that first night of knowing, Sean and I kept returning to our joy and wonder, to the promise of this new baby.  This Newbie.  So, not the condescending Dr. Cox version from Scrubs ... more like the later version when you realize how much he really cares for J.D.  If Newbie is born already using copious amounts of hair product, we will accept full responsibility.

We're about to start week 16, a week that all the books say might be the week when I stop feeling so awful all the time.  This is about when I started feeling better with Walter (maybe that was closer to week 17) but we shall see. In the midst of all the really unpleasant symptoms of early pregnancy (and I've got them all, once again, because I am an overachiever) we've still had more than our fair share of joy and delight.  I seem to be already aware of Newbie's movements, for one thing, which is way early but within the realm of possible for the second pregnancy.  Amusingly, Dr. M was really skeptical of my flutter-feeling claim, while Nurse B., mom of two, said, "Of course you can feel it! It's your second baby! You know what's going on, now!"

And I do ... Sean and I both do, not entirely, but more than we knew the first time around.  We had some bleeding at twelve weeks, which was terrifying and made our twelve week ultrasound a nervous event indeed, but when we realized it was the same kind of bleeding I had early on with Walter, our alert status went down to a manageable "slightly elevated."  Of course, everything is also completely different this time.  Walter's energy level has not been impacted at all by my first trimester exhaustion.  Hank is like, "Who do I fret over?  The baby?  The new baby?  Mama? Mama."  Sean is amazing, but that is not new, just at a whole new level.    

The best example I can think of to explain the new-but-familiar feeling of this pregnancy is the experience of hearing Newbie's heartbeat at my appointments.  We never got to hear the Bean's heartbeat--our first pregnancy was lost so soon.  Maybe because of that, and maybe because of something inherent to all pregnancies, there is an anxious moment every time the doppler wand comes out.  But then the sound comes, barely audible at first, and then strong as anything.  The sound of a baby's heartbeat is one I was conditioned over 10 months or so to find instantly reassuring ... and it is.  I think about Walter whenever I hear it, and can't believe how far we've come from those first early listenings.  It is also brand new, each time, and thrilling every time I get to hear it. "That's my Newbie!" I think.  And all is well.

Newbie, 12 weeks gestation. Looks like Mama!