Sunday, September 13, 2009


My husband took all three kids to grandma's house so I could get some rest since I've been fighting the Ick for a few weeks. I barely know what to do. If I could have had him take the dog and two cats along, my house would be perfectly quiet, if only for a few hours. The TV is off, no music, no anything. My body will be missing my baby in a few hours but that's what a breast pump is for.

You better believe the bath is running. I haven't taken a bubble bath for five or six months, pretty much since I could lift my own weight out of the tub. Showers are faster and can be managed while Bella naps. Baths are luxury time and I usually can find ten other things to do in that time. See, the gears just started up already. Must. Stop. Thoughts. Of. Cleaning. Going to take a bath, light some candles, finish my book. Since I'm supermom and could do all of the above in ten minutes or less, I'm pretty sure I'll have time for a nap.

Sadly, the only source of fire I could find for my Stargazer Lily Yankee Candle was a lighter from Las Vegas. Shaped like a headless, legless woman (a feminist pisser all on its own), it was a stag gift from my father-in-law that, when opened, has flashing lit boobies and it makes porn-gasm noises. Sigh.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Gross Out Alert

This is Apollo.  He is a husky/lab mix - and I would swear to some greyhound because this dude can RUN. He is probably topping out around 80-90 pounds. We were allowed to bond with him at the humane society only to have some paper pusher tell us the next day that we would not be allowed to adopt him because we already had a cat and he has a "small prey drive." Essentially, they told us he would kill our cats.

Eventually, we were able to bring him home and the cats ARE in charge of this dog, who is generally a big baby that lets the kids lay all over him and pull on his ears. But this morning . . . oh, this morning . .

He is let out to sniff stuff and mark up his yard first thing every morning, generally between six and six-thirty because my little goo-goo head Bella is an alarm clock like that. She and I came down around and I planted her in the highchair, let the dog out and got the coffee started. After a bit, I tried to call him in and he didn't come. This is not unusual, he gets easily fixated and will disappear to various corners of the yard or into the garage or under bushes to chase things or bark at people walking by. But I ususally at least hear the jangle of his tags on his collar. So, getting pissy, I donned some sandals and wandered out into the yard. By now he should be mowing through the grass, ready to race around the yard at full speed to impress me. Nothing.

After a few moments I heard a slight jangle and circled the house, praying that he hadn't gotten out again because he's a runner that must be chased for blocks with bread and other treats, sing-songing his name so he doesn't think he's in trouble. I rounded the corner and saw him hiding behind the A/C unit with something in his mouth. Because he will eat any and all trash food I immediately assumed he had found a hamburger bun or something and was experiencing doggie bliss. It would help to interject that a few months ago we quit giving him any and all people food because he started getting horrible bouts of diarrhea, the smell of which was warfare-quality nastiness. Then I saw a bit of red and thought he had a bird and I started yelling for him to drop it. DROP IT!

Horror set in as I realized what was really going on. Beneath his paw was a headless squirrel and in his mouth was That. Squirrel's. Head. I ran at him screaming in horror - drop it! DROP IT! Now! NOW! Oh, don't you dare eat that omigod omigod omigod as I chased him - because he finally gave up on the parts beneath his paw - I could hear him crunching on the head and -

I had to quit chasing him because he kept running. I had to let him (gag) finish so I could get him in the house. I immediately woke Rich and told him that when Apollo regurgitates squirrel pieces later I will be LEAVING THE HOUSE. I called the vet and she confirmed that we will indeed be revisisted by the squirrel in some shape or form.

I will never be grossed out by a poo diaper again, no matter the volume or consistency.

Friday, September 11, 2009

No, I Won't Forget

I was working second shift so I had been up late the night before. I remember being distinctly irritated that my sister would be calling at 8am Central. My family knew I worked late. I believe she called a few times before I finally picked up. I knew right away something was wrong. I immediately think someone in my family has died when I hear that tone at an unexpected hour, this urgency that screams something is wrong. She said, "Cat, you've got to turn on your TV. Just do it. I can't even describe it. Get up and do it."

I don't remember any of our conversation after that. I turned on the television while I still had her on the phone but I don't remember saying good bye. The TV was on the last channel I'd watched and I think the Today show was on. They were showing the smoking North Tower with a hole in it and I remember thinking, that doesn't seem right. It didn't seem right that there should be a hole in the side of such a huge building that had thousands of people in it oh, God, there's a plane coming and . . .



I had been standing in the livingroom of my apartment and took a couple steps backward until the backs of my legs found the couch so I could collapse. Almost immediately after I turned on the television flight 175 hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Moments ago they had been discussing the "accident" and no one quite knew what was going on and the next thing I knew I was very, very frightened.

I spent the entire morning on that couch, clutching an oversized decorative pillow, frozen in fear, curling up smaller and smaller as empathy swallowed me whole.  I disbelievingly watched as there were reports of another plane hitting the Pentagon (except - so much confusion - a bomb? a fire?), then the South Tower fell, then another plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, then the North Tower fell. Flights were suspended and planes were grounded and military planes were flying. For the first time in living memory, airplane noise into and out of Moline airport slowed . . . then ceased. I never knew how frequently those sounds crossed my neighborhood until they stopped. Later, when I did hear something in the sky, I stood out on my east-facing deck to see several Chinooks fly by, probably going to the Rock Island Arsenal. And what Arsenal personnel did that day after the attacks I don't even want to know. I worked there briefly. I saw things there I would not want pointed at my house. Later, part of the Pentagon fell, then the WORLD grounded flights. But the worst, the absolute worst thing I witnessed that day were the bodies falling from the towers. Not just bodies; people jumping to escape the jet feuled fires that melted metal, knowing that there was certain death either way because there was no way that they would survive the 80 story fall. But it had to be better than burning to death. It HAD to.

I had to work at three. I resented that I had to leave my couch, my haven, to even shower, much less plant a smile on my face for eight hours and pretend that I cared about whether or not Joe Schmoe won any money that day. As far as I was concerned, the earth had stopped turning. By then there were people hanging pictures of their missing loved ones on every available space around the missing towers. There were local reports before I left of gas prices skyrocketing (I was so GLAD when that local bitch who owned the Casey's got busted for pirateering) and lines at the pumps and I thought war, war as I drove to work. Every single flag I saw BETTER be at half mast or something and why wasn't the whole world shut down right now and glued to CNN waiting for the next horrible thing to happen? I stopped to get gas, almost out of spite for the news because the prices were the same and there were no lines. I went in to pay and the Pakistani owner of the gas station looked horribly sad and tired. I bought cigarettes and gave him my money and said I would see him tomorrow, looking him directly in the eyes, already angry that he might lose business or face cruelty from the mouths of the ignorami because of his Middle Eastern descent. I made it through work, still angry that there were people carrying on with acts of recreation. As I drove home that night I thought of not stopping. I thought of dropping everything and driving to Manhattan to dig and dig until I found every last mother, father, husband and wife.

I went home and continued to watch as they "recovered" bodies from the rubble. Because the horror hadn't ended. It didn't end that day or the next. The recovery went on forever. Then we were at war and damn if it still isn't going on.

I responded exactly how the terrorists hoped the United States would respond - in shock and horror and fear. I was angry and scared yet I sat that morning and did nothing but watch those planes crash and the towers fall over and over and over again. I continued to watch for days afterward, depressed and barely moving or eating. This is the first memory I have of being oversaturated by the media as I flipped from one news channel to a network to another news channel to another network. I wanted to shut down and hide. It took me too long to realize that the best revenge was to live my life as I always had, perhaps with a greater respect for my freedom and liberty.

I'm not angry or sad anymore. But to watch any minute of that footage puts my heart in my hand. I don't see it now with a sense that it will happen again. Now I think, those poor people, their poor families. Oh, the heartache of the world is too much. Too much.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

And She Still Gets Mistaken for a Boy?!

Was it the blue pacifier or the OFF-THE-SHOULDER FLORAL SHIRT WITH BOWS?

Doodie Mistress

Can I just say how excited I am? I had AN IDEA and am forming it into a business so that I might be self-employed doing something I like (writing, even on a structured basis). I don't want to divulge much detail yet but I'm building a website and pricing out declaring myself a business and all the stuff I'll need, which thankfully isn't too much. But as soon as the site is finished and I receive a certain certificate, I will share and whore-I-mean-market myself mercilessly upon thee.

Not so excited about the fact that five and half month Isabella, now wearing 9 month clothing for length and probably 18-20 pounds, has changed a certain daily habit. While previously unpredictable in timing, little Boo-Bella poo-ed 3-5 times a day and could at least be relied upon to go first thing in the morning after being placed in her highchair and while still in her jammies. We could then give her a bath, knowing she got one complete butt soak after the deed.

This particular habit is now down to once a day at no predictable time whatsoever. So waiting on the bath is a useless endeavor, because what she used to do several times per day she now does all at once and of the same volume as 3-5 times per day. Her diaper reaches critical mass each and every time she poos and we are up to 2 -3 outfit changes a day. My laundry mistress duties have increased. Ha ha. Duties. Ha ha. Doodies.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Shock Therapy

The night before last Bella started going down at night with surprising ease. No patting and lifting and patting and nursing and patting and making sure there was not a peep or rustling nursing pad to be heard. I fed her, popped a nanuk in her mouth, and laid her in the crib. She was out. She looked so precious, I reached down and placed a hand on her chunky little thigh.

I can't explain the feeling I had at that moment except that it felt like an electric current was traveling through my fingers. I pulled back for a moment and looked at my hand, looked at Isabella, and put my hand back on her leg. The feeling remained. So I stood there with my hand on her leg, eyes closed and grinning like an idiot for far too long. I thought, What is this feeling? This is my daughter. She is beautiful. This moment is beautiful. I can't believe I get to feel this.

I knew there would be precious moments like smiling and cooing and crawling and walking and pooping. But this is a kind of connection I never knew about. It's a moment I never counted on. These happy little surprises make up more of parenthood than I had guessed. And people, it's sweety, schmucky, schloopy freakin' beautiful. I hope you get it.

Monday, August 17, 2009


People ask if your infant is sleeping through the night like it is a tremendous personal accomplishment, like cooking a turkey or earning a doctorate degree.

Isabella sleeps in completely unpredictable 1-3 hour spurts, and her best sleep is in our bed (with my boob in her mouth). I have been banking daytime baby sleep, allowing only a couple naps a day.
No, honey, don't let her fall asleep on you at 6pm when we're putting her down at 8pm. What? No, I know she's fussy. What? No, I'm not going to put my boob in her mouth, I just fed her an hour ago. What? No, get up and walk around with her or something.
I thought I should be stimulating her senses all day long because her brain is growing so fast and what if she gets bored and turns into a couch potato because I let her watch Yo Gabba Gabba while I check my email? Well, without admitting that I may be wrong (by telling my husband I'm trying something different), I'm trying something different.

Yesterday I let her nap every two hours, mostly 20-30 minutes at a time. Holy snarkles, Buddha, it worked. She was happy all day and evening. Not like she magically slept through the night, but she just slept better. I can't explain it. More actual sleeping. Of course, it's not working this morning because she wants to watch cartoons with the big kids (inservice day after school's been in session a week? Whatever). Right now she's down for some quiet time to herself. I'm listening to the monitor and surely there is someone else in the room because she is positively chatting and screeching her entire life story. And when she starts crying I'm going to wait ONE FULL MINUTE before I go running to her. But I'm going to keep trying this for the week until I'm sure I'm not fooling myself with it.

Meantime, you'll know when she starts sleeping through the night because see that idiot turning cartwheels down the street in front of a 300 piece marching band with floats and fireworks? Yeah, that's me, and I don't have bags under my eyes.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


I struggle. That's as honest as I can be, and I struggle with how honest I should be. Talking with my husband last night before trying to sleep, I realized there are dark moments that he doesn't know about, and he seemed surprised when I told him that when he went back to work after the baby was born, that there were days I would sit in the recliner with her and just cry on her head because I was so scared of being a horrible mother. Prone to depression until I turned 30 and started dealing with it, and with good reason that maybe we'll explore together someday, my family assumes I am suffering from postpartum depression. And I want to talk about it.

So let me just get this off my chest, World: the last month of my pregnancy, I wanted to die. Not because of being pregnant (I actually had a relatively easy pregnancy), but because I felt so helpless as I watched my family fall apart with the stress of my job loss, my husband's commuting, the special needs of my stepchildren and their mother's constant and nearly successful effort at sabotaging our family dynamic. I was so angry that we chose to bring a child into this awful situation that one day I drove away and cried for four hours. Gut-wrenching, vomit-inducing sobs of sadness and heartbreak. But what I was really mourning was that I had lost power over my household and I would soon lose power over my life. Then I went home. The next day, I gave birth.

A most wonderful and vagina-wrecking experience, is birth, and I will talk about that more someday, too. For now, suffice to say that the following six weeks were a blur of sleeplessness and pain that no one warned me about. People always said to nap when the baby naps, but no one told me that the baby would only nap when I stuck my boob in her mouth and the second I put her down she would wake up and cry. None of my books said there would be times that she would cry but didn't want to eat OR sleep AND her diaper was dry AND if I put her down she would cry louder so I couldn't pee for twelve hours until the bacon-bringer got home, much less shower/brush anything/eat. No one told me that I would love her so much, so fast, that everytime she nursed or fussed or pooped or blinked that would dissolve into goopy tears and snot (and man-oh-man did she hate it when I blew my nose).

For weeks I was this utter mess of hormones and mood swings. Here's where I struggle with how detailed should be about this struggle. The stepkids, to whom I have dedicated my heart and soul for several years undoing all of the early damage from before we got custody, started rejecting me, and with a vengeance. Whatever was going on for them was something I could not mentally handle. So a few weeks ago, I walked. I packed enough stuff for the baby for a month (because I had NO idea how to pack a baby for a week) and took off for Mom's. And folks, that was just the sabbatical I needed.

I dedicated five days to resting and bonding with my daughter. I know my husband missed some work. I went with his blessing but he was still sad. I don't want to know what he did while I was gone. I don't care. The kids stayed with his grandma when he did go to work and I know they treated her like crap and got spoiled anyway and I don't care. My dad worried because he thought I was leaving my husband even though I told him I wasn't and I didn't give it another thought. And without being cold or callous about it, I came home and I stopped caring so much. I didn't stop loving anyone and I don't love anyone less. But I stopped caring how the kids dressed themselves and whether or not they left the house with toothpaste on their faces because, ADHD or not, they need to deal with the social reality that other kids can be cruel. If you want to be the boy with dragon breath or the girl with snot on her face then that's YOUR problem, I taught you better and that particular job is done. I stopped caring how the chores got done, but made a list and said, These are your daily responsibilities because you are old enough to do this. You are going to make my life easier whether you like it or not. If not, then I will take away your privileges which will be your loss, not mine. When they pushed my buttons and manipulated my emotions, I laughed and told them I loved them and walked away. I made a deal with my husband that every day when he gets home, he will take the baby and I will go shower (not that he wasn't doing this already, but I had to tell myself what to do with that time). I let Isabella suck on her dress because she's teething and comforting herself and I can strap her in her highchair and go pee. And damn if this shit doesn't work. We laugh, and that by itself is a by-golly freakin' miracle.

Now I'm workin' it like no other. On a Sunday afternoon, I'm forcing the whole family to go grocery shopping so I don't have to carry anything AT ALL. And Mom and Dad(s) and Sister and World: I am not suffering from PPD. The hormones are balancing out and the kids are back in school and I have a smily, loving baby often attached to my boob. But all the laundry is done, my kitchen is clean and I got a new haircut. And while my disinfected countertops do not define my life, my family often does. And folks, I am workin' it.