Tuesday, April 24, 2012
1) My child will be normal or above normal. Let's face it, every parent wants their kid to be the early talker, early walker, precocious problem solver with an early admittance letter into Harvard. Seeing that H's Mom and Dad were on the higher end of the bell curve it was easy to assume our Mr. Man would be too. Well, and whose to say he isn't. However his theme song should be Mr. Rodgers "I Like To Take My Time." H didn't crawl until he was 11 months, didn't walk until 17 months (literally 23 hours before the first physical therapy appointment), and we're still hanging on for his first enunciated word. Although people mean well when they say, "Gee, I bet your little 12 month old is walking and getting into everything!" You smile and say nope. Inside you are beginning the running self-battery of, "If I was a better parent he would! Maybe it's something I did/didn't do in or out of utero that's causing this. What if I doomed him to special ed for the rest of his life? Etc, etc, etc." It's a pretty ugly feeling. Oh we have speech therapy coming 1x/week, but we have had little progress and now they are talking about getting more experts weighing in on the matter.
2) I am Freaking Mary Poppins. Sadly I cannot turn medicine into cherry cordial or turn ordinary chalk drawings into animated singing sequences. In fact, I've never prioritized my time to go to the fishmonger for a nice piece of cod. We do play tidy up the house a lot to the point that H's favorite past time is to clean. I literally right-sized the swiffer so he can dust the floors at will. I suppose the best part of me not being Mary Poppins is no matter which way the wind shifts I'm still going to be here for him.
3) We will be at play-dates or the library or the gym or the park every single day. Um, no. H has yet to see the inside of a library and he's just barely getting into the swings at the park. Surprisingly that outing only takes like 30 minutes of your day. I tried extending it once by making it even more fun and getting ice cream. I have learned it takes 2 parents to manage a 19 month old and a dairy loving dog on a hot day with sticky running goo. Since we are a one car family and Mr Man has unpredictable naps there are days when we never leave the house. I've learned I'm not Julie, the cruise director on the Love Boat.
4) Surely child development is an innate skill. Somehow I missed this. While I elected to stay at home hoping to give my infant the 1:1 care and bonding I thought to be essential, I've learned that a toddler needs a bit more. I'm not a child educator and cannot imagine making crafts or science projects or whatnot that is age appropriate and stimulating every single day. I'm beginning to feel a bit out of my comfort zone and now worry that I'm doing a disservice to Mr. Man by NOT having him in a structured daycare. (Re-read #1 and add that last line to another ugly script running rampant in my head.) On the other hand I watched the documentary "Babies" and saw kids in Mongolia and the savannah hitting their milestones without any age sensitive educational programming.
Monday, October 31, 2011
After moving to Wisconsin almost three years ago, the State and city of Milwaukee have continued to woo me with it’s blue collared roots, multicultural festivals, and amazing integration of nature into urban settings. I am smitten until the last weekend of October.
The idealized and romantic notion of trick-or-treating has been decimated. Charles Schulz is rolling in his grave. I have inquired several times to our native friends of why trick-or-treating has been sterilized to city ordained set times of daylight that appear to be randomly chosen (Saturday vs. Sunday) and never on the actual holiday. The answer is typically unsatisfying. School nights? Nope, because Sunday afternoon falls into that category of unfinished homework and forgotten permission slips. Crime is lower during the day? Perhaps, but isn’t the concept neighborhood watch based on community awareness? One would think a street filled with lit up porches and adults patrolling their front doors at the same time would exemplify this requirement. Besides, I have yet to see an increase of police patrolling in my neighborhood during the current set day and time. What really upsets me are the children who run from their families minivans en mass without costumes to my door while their parents sit in the car waiting to drive them less than a mile to the next block. A costume isn’t expensive. A sheet as a ghost or a super cape would be appreciated as a token of homage before I give you a piece of the “good” candy.
This year I played Monday morning quarterback once again about how I would have handled the parents who were trick-or-treating for their 4 month olds in strollers, the grandparents who came to my door because it was too cold for their grandchildren who sat in the car curbside, and the children who proudly said they weren’t dressed up as anything but gladly took my candy. This year I even had one 40 year old male come to my door without children or a costume. At least the teenagers who were too old to trick-or-treat donned a Scary Movie mask. The parents have missed the point of this holiday. I found myself playing judge; a role I loathe. The kids who wore costumes got better candy and more pieces. The ones who actually said, “trick-or-treat,” and had manners got even more pieces of sugary loot. While I would have liked to have not given any candy to those who offended me, I didn’t mostly because I feared the consequences of property damage all because I didn’t give them a Snickers bar. But the real reason I didn’t is because penalizing the children wasn’t fair. It was their parents who made the poor choices and were terrible role models of entitlement and working the system.
The first year of living here I actually applauded the parents who brought their children to the safer neighborhoods for trick-or-treating. I even reframed the lack of costume as a lack of monetary resources to my neighbor who has lived in the same house for 70+ years. Go, social worker, go! Last year I became disillusioned when the first group of trick-or-treaters consisted of teenagers who had the audacity of opening my front door and taking the whole bowl of candy until J chased them down the street and they dropped it. This year I became bitter and feared what kind of role model I was becoming for my son.
What should be a fun holiday of community celebration has once again brought out my latent societal judgment of what is just versus what is fair. Most importantly it illustrates how the racial and social class differences are thriving and how each of us contributes to the divide, even if it is only in our thoughts. This frightens me as I mold and shape my son's evolving world view. I have lived in more segregated communities either by faith (Salt Lake City), social economics (Boston), and race (New Orleans). Only in Milwaukee have I ever had the concept of entitlement between the have and have-nots reinforced so strongly.
It is my plea to the elite neighborhood societies who organize their members-only trick-or-treating and the cities who publish their staggered approved dates and times to return to the roots of Halloween where children dress up, meet their neighbors, and become the ambassadors of community unity on the actual holiday during twilight and early evening hours. Or maybe I should have a get-off-my-lawn moment and suggest that if they want to regulate tradition of day and times, why not add in age limits (like Virginia, Seattle, and Illinois) as well as a costume requirement.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Friday, September 30, 2011
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Girlfriends, sister in laws, and other moms proved to be an extraordinary resource of advice and wisdom so far in my 7.5 months. While I was warned that the What to Expect book was written for the sole purpose of scaring the expecting mother to death, it was the sole choice my insurance company sent me once I registered with their pre-natal department. One girlfriend recommended I get The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy for the real scoop on what to expect. That was some wise advice. If I have any kind of odd question I go there first. While at Costco, we picked up Dr. Oz’s latest take on the owners manual of your body with bambino. That was the most unhelpful book thus far. This tv man assures me that the kid can taste what I eat thus learning to like the veggies or pizza I put in my mouth. Really? As J put it, “Why don’t you write to him and ask him to explain the pathophysiology behind that statement.”
One book went into the importance of a birth plan. When I mentioned this to the same girlfriend who suggested the Girlfriend’s Guide she said, “Oh. My. God. Please tell me you aren’t going to be one of those. They never work.” While every book suggests writing one, they also say be prepared for the hospital staff not to follow it. For the record, we haven’t written one yet. However, the book did spur me on to getting more tools under my belt when it came to labor. The one thing I fear the most is pitocin. That’s the drug they give you to speed labor along. I learned more than I wanted to know from a documentary and other readings. Once given, a vicious cycle ensues. The pitocin causes stronger and longer contractions that HURT, so you request an epidural and the pain meds slow your labor down which then leads to MORE pitocin and then more pain meds, etc, etc, etc. I want to avoid that drug like the plague.
As a result of my fear I looked into other ways of managing my labor. At first I looked into the Bradley method. This philosophy centers around husband as birth coach. While this sounds like an encouraging partnering method, I would like to refer back to 1992 for everyone to understand why it wouldn’t work for me.
In 1992 a combination of sucky genes and athletic overtraining landed me in the operating room with a cocky orthopedic surgeon. It was a complex surgery with a 7 inch scar to prove it. When I woke up from anesthesia, my wonderful patient mother was by my side. “Can I get you water? How about a blanket?” Instead of the soothing nurturing maternal voice, I heard a pitch like a screeching out of tune violin. It was so bad that I finally kicked her out of my room and had the nurse put a sign on the door that literally said, “No Moms Allowed. All Visitors Must Check In With the Nurses Station.” Aunts and other visitors paused to confer with my mom who was now banished to the visitors’ area. Mom had a great sense of humor about the whole thing. She got her last laugh when I was left to maneuver my groin to ankle bulky brace and crutches to my bathroom and then got stuck. I was so pissed that no one was coming to help me I finally threw my crutch outside the door while swearing at the top of my lungs. At that point Mom just looked at the nurses and said, “Yes, that is my daughter. Isn’t she lovely?” It wasn’t one of my finest moments. Somehow I just don’t think a coach will cut it when I’m passing a watermelon.
I then looked into Hypnobirthing. I will admit, it’s a little “out there,” but then again how could it hurt? Invoking the relaxation response seems natural enough. There have been studies about hypnosis/relaxation use in surgery as a substitute for anesthesia. I was worried my biggest hurdle would be J’s scientific nature. I was shocked to find he was open to the idea AND there was a certified instructor in our city! Somehow the stars aligned and we landed in a 5 week class with 2 other couples.
Let me introduce our cast of characters (names changed of course): Gary and Lisa are two PhD’s. Gary has his PhD in animal physiology biology and embodies the scientific method. Lisa has her PhD in something with the brain. She looks like she only shops at organic fair trade stores. How they met, got married and had a son is a little baffling. They embody the skeptic and Mother Nature. We also have Lindsey and Matt. Both are CPAs. She is a tri-athlete, Iron Man, marathon competitor. Matt is still traumatized by his ex-wife’s pregnancies and deliveries. They are more of the “Die Hards.” And then there is us: we’re treated as the medical experts and are go-with-the-flow.
Our instructors are a husband/wife dyad: Danielle and River. I think the name “River” is a dead giveaway. He too is a PhD in biology and specializes in invertebrate marine biology. Danielle has never had children, but is a licensed hypnotherapist, massage therapist, and Hypnobirthing instructor. River has 3 kids from a previous marriage. All were delivered naturally.
We began our first class with introductions and get to know you time, although most of it was spent with River and Danielle pontificating. There they were espousing the benefits of having a physician who is pro-hypnobirth/pro-natural and the power of belief and intention because it’s better for your baby. The computer used for the power point was propped up on the drum River uses for his male bonding drum circle and he went into detail about hormones and neuro-receptors. It was an odd juxtaposition.
We then went in to watch birthing videos where hypnobirth techniques were used. I was anticipating the other couples to squirm, but the only person making any kind of noise was the only physician in the room. It was a dead giveaway of his 100+ births he’s attended and the trauma that remains. His facial expressions were priceless as they put the blue limp baby on the mom’s chest. You could almost hear him say, “Hello? Where’s the resuscitation?!?” Yeah, we're going to be a good time.