Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dark Cloud

My brother called me at the end of my work day to share the report from the surgery: the tumor was "remarkably large," larger than they typically see. And her cervix felt "strange" so the surgeon thinks it is involved, also; too soon to say if the tumor spread to or from there.

It's funny, I'm remembering now the pattern with my dad's illness and my reaction to all the steps in the journey.

Because, you see, cancer isn't this piece of bad news you get and deal with.

It's this incredibly long string of little pieces of bad news. So very many days get to be ruined by little pieces of bad news. Here's how they go.

First, there's the strange calm as I receive the news via phone, generally in the clinic where I work, my mind  elsewhere. I am intellectually processing the information, but marveling at my lack of emotional involvement. I hear the words, but it's almost as if we are discussing a patient. I ask astute questions, answer other questions politely, even make merry comments.

Then we get off the phone, and I marvel again, at how quickly my cheerful attitude evaporates. A dense, grey fog settles over me, like it crept over the San Francisco hills in the years I lived there. I feel frozen. Neither happy or sad, just... numb.

And then I get home, and it's the evening, and I'm in a black mood. I'm pissed off. I don't want to do this, dammit. I've been through this with one parent already. I don't want to do it again.

I distract myself with senseless entertainment. Tonight I watched an episode of Parenthood, a blessed relief... which would've been better if one of the characters hadn't been suffering the ill effects of her first round of chemotherapy. But it was still good, still an escape. I don't want to talk to anyone, don't have anything to say.

But when I called my brother to ask how my mother was feeling, my mom answered his phone, so we had a nice chat. She sounded like herself, despite having been under general anesthesia earlier today. She asked about Calliope. I racked my mind for cute details of my girl's day. I acted and sounded exactly like normal, cheerful and constructive, until I got off the phone. God forbid I share any part of my emotional landscape. That's not part of the way I do things in this particular play.

Now I'm planning to download the new Anne Lamott book, because I deserve a treat, and because sometimes her spiritual wanderings speak to me. I could use that tonight. My Kindle and I will curl up in bed, and I will wait for the anger to leave.

In the morning, I expect that I will have re-adjusted to today's new normal. And my anger will have lifted, and I will be my cheerful again, even knowing that my Mom has a very large tumor in her bladder, and that we await results from Monday's pathology report.

Monday, after that report, I expect to go through this same cycle of emotions all over again. I did it so many times with my dad's illness, and it seemed to be the same every time. I hope I've learned something about how to do this "better," somehow, by now.

Family Drama Already?

It's two days post-diagnosis and my mom is at the hospital, awaiting her biopsy. I am assuming this confirms the cancer diagnosis and also presumably tells us the cell type and thus, how aggressive the cancer is.

I'm still avoiding doing any internet research and am just waiting to see what the doctors tell us. My brother is with my mom and he will call me after the procedure, since she will be groggy from general anesthesia.

My mom lives in a suburb of Boston, and my brother lives in Boston proper. With my sister recently relocated to Florida (from Western MA) and me in Brooklyn, he is the one who is local, and also the one without a family (he is recently divorced, and doesn't have kids). My sister and I have volunteered to come up as needed, but it's obviously not practical for us to to be there on a regular basis.

When my dad was sick with brain cancer (diagnosed seven and a half years ago, died five years ago), I was a nurse practitioner student and living on the upper west side of Manhattan (and childless, obviously, though in a long term relationship), it was a lot easier to get to MA. Typically I would rent a car (my ex-boyfriend worked for a rental car company, which made things easier) and leave Manhattan at 6 am on Saturday. I was able to make the trip in just over three hours. Friday night traffic made it not at all worthwhile to even attempt the trip then. I would stay until noon or so on Sunday, then head back to the city.

Now, well, I'm an hour further from MA. And of course, I've got this little person dependent on me. Who doesn't like the car, particularly, though she's much better about tolerating shorter rides than she used to be. And packing for us both is much. much more complicated than packing for a single adult. And then there's the idea of a toddler tramping all over my mom's house, which wouldn't be relaxing for a sick person, not to mention the fact that her home isn't babyproofed. At least my mom recently bought a baby gate for the bottom of the stairs (but not the top). Traveling with Calliope for Thanksgiving was stressful and exhausting (though rewarding, also), and I had really, really hoped to avoid it for Christmas. I was looking forward to a quiet week at home, enduring potty training bootcamp and enjoying trips to the zoo, botanic garden, and children's museum.

But of course, if my mom wants me to come, I will find a way to make it work.

What I'm worried about is that my brother will want me to come, simply to even the score. To make up for the care that he is providing, which may or may not be needed or wanted.Which is frustrating on so many levels.

When we spoke on the evening of my mom's diagnosis, he already alluded to his expectations for me, something along the lines of, "with me being the one that's local and on the front lines, I'm going to need help from you and J (our other sister)."


First off, my mom is still healthy and feeling fine. He has taken it upon himself to move in with her for a few days, which is very nice but I'm not sure my mom feels it's at all necessary. (I wonder if she's cooking for him every night? At least tomorrow night my cousin is bringing over a pot of soup!)

She also told me immediately that she did not want to get a second opinion, that she really liked the first doctor she saw. He immediately told me that of course she needed a second opinion, and his ?soon-to-be girlfriend, who is a OB/gyn, got him the cell phone number of the "best" specialist in Boston. And that furthermore, treatment in Boston would be clearly of higher quality than in Worcester, at UMass, and also much more convenient for him. And for my mom, too, since she might want to stay with him, to be closer to the hospital.

I don't disagree with the idea of getting a second opinion, but I felt like it was also important to honor my mom's wishes. He technically listened when I explained that it's important to respect the autonomy of people with serious health problems (not my own original thesis, something I was taught in nursing school), but obviously didn't agree with the sentiment when it came to getting a second opinion. I'm concerned she may be swayed by his forceful "persuasion" (he is like a dog with a bone when it comes to an argument, and has been like that since he was six years old and could, even then, bend her to his will, which of course, brings up her own issues with being all-too-easily persuadable, but I digress) and end up getting treatment at a facility that is inconvenient to her home (and of course she will want to be in her own bed, in her own home if she's not feeling well, not on an Aerobed in his empty bachelor's apartment!) and her friends.

I'm also remembering the very terrible day after my dad died, when my brother and sister decided that we simply had to clean out every cupboard and drawer in my mother's entire three story house before the funeral and shiva calls. Cleaning was the last thing I felt capable of; they were convinced that this was an obvious example of my selfishness. Never mind that I had been getting up hours earlier than each of them each day to help with our dying father's care while they slept. That was ancient history, as far as they were concerned. This descended into a screaming brawl that left battle scars for me, at least, for a very long time.

So I'm very worried about my brother's demands on me, which I may feel are unreasonable, and having to choose between doing things that are arduous for me (like traveling to MA with Calliope) and feel unnecessary versus having pitched family battles again. Enduring another experience like that would probably do severe and permanent damage on our relationships.


My attitude when it comes to siblings is live-and-let-live. I'm not placing expectations on my brother about what he should be doing for our mother. Her friend offered to take her to the biopsy, but he insisted on taking her. Which is wonderful, and I'm grateful, but I don't expect that to be held against me, either.

Why is it that these challenging family experiences, which have the potential to bring us together, seem more apt to tear us apart? How do I get through the coming months and try to protect those relationships while also protecting the lives of Calliope and myself?

Advice welcome.

And now I return to being in a more present and positive "space," and leaving these worries to fend for themselves for the time being.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bad News

My mom called today as the work day was drawing to a close and I was frantically trying to finish charting in a depressingly tall stack of charts.

"Well, the news isn't good," she said matter of factly.

"They found a tumor that's taking up 60% of my bladder. No wonder I've had to go to the bathroom so much lately!" (A symptom she had failed to mention until this moment.)

She continued, "the doctor thinks it looks like an aggressive kind of cancer, and that one or two lymph nodes are involved, but not the kidneys. But he can't be sure.

He wants to do a biopsy, hopefully later this week, to see exactly what we are dealing with. But most likely they will want to do chemotherapy first, before surgery, to try to spare the bladder."

Almost cheerfully she added, "but not to worry, Massachusetts just passed a medical marijuana law!"

My heart is heavy tonight.

I'm trying to stay present, and not think too far into the future, and also not tell myself stories about why this isn't fair. Although I don't know how to meditate, and surely wish I did, and also that I had the discipline to actually do it, I'm mostly dwelling in my feelings, and not my thoughts. I learned through my dad's fight with cancer as well as other painful events in the last few years that thinking is a dangerous occupation.

Geneen Roth, a writer I admire, says to describe how an emotion feels in the body, to give it a color, a texture.

So how I feel right now, it feels like a gluey, gelatinous grey cloud is sitting on my diaphragm. Not making it hard to breathe, exactly, but just making my heart feel very, very heavy.

Tonight, after I dressed Calliope in her pajamas and fleece sleep sack, and gratefully nursed her (one side only), I just sat in the chair and held her for a few long minutes. For once, she was still, and simply rested her head on my shoulder, sucking her thumb quietly and contentedly. Finally, she pulled away and looked into my face with the kindest, gentlest, most loving smile... and then leaned in and carefully pressed her lips against mine in her first ever closed mouth kiss.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Feeling Wistful

Eating her Thanksgiving "dinner" -- the cookie was the only thing she ate

Playing train with Cousin William, age five, who generously donated
the hand me down and completely grotty doll she's so avidly clutching.
Naturally, she greatly prefers that doll (who came home with us) to the
completely lovely, soft and cuddly, baby doll my sister got her for 
Hanukah. <Sigh>

Calliope continues to progress towards weaning.

I nursed her at 5 am when she woke up crying... but her crying already sounded like it was starting to trail off by the time I made it into her room. I decided to nurse her anyway, partly because I was about to start working out and I didn't want her to wake up hungry while I was in the middle of it, but partly, maybe the bigger part, because I didn't want to miss my chance. We've gotten out of the habit of nursing when she gets up for the day (around 7 am) because it's time consuming and makes me late, and I figured she didn't need it if she was nursing at 5:30 am.

Plus, the nanny and the other baby were coming at 7:15 am and that would be way too distracting for nursing.

Anyway, even at 5 am, she only wanted to nurse on one side.

Despite my vows to the contrary, I decided to pump at work today because I felt full.

Tonight, once again, she only wanted to nurse on one side, and shook her head decisively no when offered the other side.


Part of me wants to stop offering and wait for her to ask for it, because it hurts a little when she says no.

But that's being silly. I'm the grown up, and I need to keep my ego out of it.

I think part of this is that my mom has a knee replacement surgery scheduled for Friday. Last week, as part of pre-op testing, the doctor discovered some unexplained blood in the urine. A CT scan today showed a thickened urethra. And there is some small chance that it could be cancer. And I'm scared about this possibility. I've already lost one parent. I can't bear the thought of losing another. Calliope's and my life would be bereft.

So I think this is playing a big part in my melancholy tonight.

And yes, I'm worried about the impact of weaning could have on my mood.

Thanksgiving was otherwise good. We traveled to the Boston area to see my family, both immediate and first cousins, plus their families. It was lovely and drama free and totally fun... but also exhausting. Fifteen months and honing walking skills is not an ideal time for airplane travel, in case you were wondering. And waking her up at 4:30 in the morning to go catch a plane felt terrible, though she handled it well. Of course, when we were at the totally empty airport and through security with two hours to spare, I felt a little silly... but far better than trying to rush through a crowded airport with a toddler.

I'm very thankful for the nice time away and also to be back home. One more reason I'm hoping my mom is just fine is that I'm very excited for a quiet Christmas break at home. Even if it contains an attempt at potty training!

Modeling the beautiful new sweater my sister made for her

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Baby Led Weaning, Part Two?

Calliope found this random Santa hat and decided it was a stuffed animal
and thus carried it around with her, hugging it and saying "aww!" 

Here she is being busted out of her "secret" hiding place behind
the glider where she had retreated here to cuddle with her new
friend the Santa hat.

Baby led weaning is a phrase coined to mean "letting your baby learn to eat solids by sharing your food with you."

We tried this and it was pretty much a dismal failure. As an infant, Calliope was very hesitant to try new tastes and textures, and seemingly repelled by the prospect of actually touching any food with her hand.

She now eats quite well, but it is still quite limited in what she will try. Our local mom's group was discussing popular quick foods to serve toddlers; suggestions included: lassagne, quiche, enchiladas, all sorts of beans, lentil soup, and scrambled eggs. Calliope won't touch any of these foods.

Correction: she ate a black bean once. Well, she tasted it. And promptly spit it back out.

She also had her first taste of pizza last night, and likewise, spit it back out.

I think she still prefers foods that are made up of single ingredients. Or two. Like toast with peanut butter, or slices of cheese, or chicken-apple sausage (cut into strips). Pizza or casseroles are way too many flavors mixed up together.

But anyway, in this case, when I say "baby led weaning," I mean weaning from breastfeeding.

I have been wondering when weaning will happen, because she greatly enjoys nursing. In the evenings, when I ask her if she wants "neh neh," she starts fake crying immediately, as if I've been refusing her all evening. When she hasn't even asked for it.

But today, after a long nap which left her crying hysterically (should I have waited to go in to get her until she stopped crying? I never know what to do in this situation), she outright refused to nurse. Usually nursing in this situation is a magical "reset" of the situation, so I was disappointed. This morning, before her morning nap, she only nursed on the right side. We missed the afternoon nursing because we were out with friends (at this point, I try to avoid nursing in public). So at bedtime, I was sure she would nurse enthusiastically, so I started again on the right side (the left always has more milk so I always start on the right). But she refused the left side again.

Leaving me an evening spent cozying up to my crappy mini breast pump (the good one is at work), because I was afraid of getting a plugged duct or mastitis if I went twenty-four hours without emptying my left breast.

I'm planning to pump two more days at work, Monday and Tuesday, for my friend's baby.

And then, that is it!

She clearly doesn't need the calories from milk, since she's obviously filling up on table food and just using the nursing as a quick comfort. So there's no point in my trying to maintain my supply by pumping (she's refused to take expressed breast milk by cup or bottle since the end of last school year).

I'm curious this is baby led weaning (of nursing), or if a decreased need for milk won't mean a decreased desire for comfort nursing?

I thought I'd be sad to wean, but I think that if it happens because she initiates it, and it's gradual, that I will be fine with it. I suspect that as a working mother, I can see all the advantages of her increased independence. I felt like my sister prolonged my nieces' babyhoods in some ways and I wonder if some of that is because, as a stay at home mom, so much of her identity was (is) wrapped up in their needing her?

This is not to say that my sister nursed too long because of being a SAHM (that's too intimate of a relationship for me to judge... she nursed the older one to 28 months and the younger to one day shy of four years), more that I saw her doing other things for them that I suspect I won't do, like carrying them a lot even when they could walk well, particularly the younger one (who was very small and thus easy to carry), and "wearing" her in a baby carrier long after others have stopped (she sent me a picture of my niece strapped to her back on a fussy day when my niece was seven). I love it that Calliope can walk now, and just today let her push the stroller instead of ride in it on our way to a friend's car, and when we arrived at our destination, I opted to leave the stroller in the car in favor of letting her walk or be carried.

Time will tell how weaning works out. But I do think it's funny that I was just wondering about this issue, and worrying she would never wean and that I would have to force the issue... and now it looks like maybe she will take care of it all on her own. Growing up is an amazing thing!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Fifteen Months and One Day...

... And just like that, she stopped crawling.

It's all walking, all the time now. Crazy.

An enhanced view of the mullet in it all its glory

Walkin' girl models the new coat from Grammy (which conveniently but totally accidentally
matches her first shoes)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Calliope at Fifteen Months

Trying to put her hat on by herself......And missing her head entirely.

(Note to current and prospective parents: It makes filling in pregnancy journals and baby books SOOOO much easier if you title your blog posts like this! I wish I had started sooner.)

My little girl is fifteen months old today! The months are flying by but life couldn't be more wonderful.

Calliope is walking pretty well now. The nanny says she's definitely walking more than crawling now. Crawling is probably still slightly faster, but I can that crawling is definitely on it's way out. Twice today I heard her coming down the hallway and was completely taken aback to see her walking instead of crawling.

Soon she will be running. Yikes!

I was worried I would be sad about this new step (no pun intended) towards independence, but it's actually quite the opposite. I'm really excited for her to be able to do more things for herself. I am eagerly looking forward to going for walks together without the stroller. Even if they are to the end of the block and back. Just a Mama and her girl, out for a stroll... sounds heavenly!

It does seem funny sometimes, though, to be holding hands as we make the sloooooow trek from the kitchen to her bedroom (all of twenty feet) when I could just as easily scoop her up and be there in a few seconds. But I think she's proud of her ability to move, and I want to foster that. And now she's starting to push my hand away and walk on her own.

She's just started trying to practice running... and what better place to practice than in the tub???

She loves being able to carry things around with her, which she obviously couldn't do when she was crawling. I think she carries things around the house on purpose just to show herself that she can.

On Monday, she walked and then crawled (she can't navigate the change from bumpy concrete to padded surface on her feet, still too unsteady) to the "big kid" play structure at the playground. I followed her over and watched as she pulled herself to standing at the end of the "big kid" slides\. I wasn't worried because I knew the slide was too high up for her to climb onto.

Until, moments later, she successfully climbed up on it. I moved closer and watched, astounded, as she scaled the "big kid" slide, reaching the top without any help from me, a height about level with the top of my head!

I was very nervous about her falling, but felt that she got there on her own so I had to respect her abilities.

I waited and hoped she wouldn't step off the side of the platform or attempt one of the ladders. Finally, she turned around and went down the slide on her belly, as she's been taught.
Video of Calliope climbing the slide, then sliding down, all without help

In other news, sleep suddenly shifted back towards twelve hours at night, after several beautiful weeks of thirteen hours each night! She is now taking a single nap at 11 or even 11:30.

The nap varies in length but probably averages a little more than an hour.

She started waking up earlier, so I've pushed bedtime earlier, a la Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, and I think it might be helping a bit, but not entirely. But I've decided that after I nurse her, if it's before 7 am, she's going back to the crib to wait for 7. My concern is that if I let her get up earlier, she'll see all the rewards of waking up ever earlier. Her buddy gets up at 5:15 am sometimes! No thanks! She doesn't protest going back in the crib, and often goes back to sleep for a bit. After that, she sits quietly in the crib until I come and get her. I'm so grateful that she likes her crib and her own company.

Eating varies widely. She barely eats any dinner but generally eats a large lunch. Today I tried fresh breakfast sausage patties from the turkey guy at the farmer's market. She devoured them! This was a major victory because it's very hard to find meat she will eat.

Feeding her is generally challenging because she doesn't like very many foods... and previously beloved foods suddenly fall out of favor. She mostly refuses yogurt with me but will eat it with the nanny at snack time in lieu of the nursing with me.

She is still throwing food, often without reason (ie she is still hungry and still wants to eat whatever it is she just threw). Based on a suggestion from the SMC Forum, I'm getting her down from the highchair to pick up the food she threw, usually each time she throws something. It's annoying, but when I'm consistent, it does seem to help. (I'm trying to be 100% consistent... doing better this week.) The challenging part is that it's a lot of extra effort for me... especially when her hands are covered with peanut butter so I have to get the washcloth and clean her off before putting her down on the floor to pick up the food there... only to be replaced in the highchair to get messy all over again.

She is getting her first three molars, all at once.

Signs: She finally learned the sign for water enough to consistently use it. (I'm impressed that Shannon's Finn is learning 1-2 new signs a week! We have to up our game!). I'd love to work on "help me" for our next sign, as I'm hoping that could short circuit some toddler frustration which is already showing up in small doses.

She also signs "love" when I say "I love you" which is especially heart melting before I leave for work in the mornings.

In a very exciting development, she also just started combining signs, signing "more food" and "more water," both for the first time this past week.

She protests occasionally, now, about the nanny picking her up when she arrives. I know she loves the nanny and we are so fortunate to have such an amazing caregiver! But it sometimes makes me feel a little gratified that she likes me best! Until this school year, she seemed very happy to go to the nanny, though she was thrilled when I came home for the day. Now she's definitely happy to see me when I get home, and almost always crawls over, growling, to me for a hug, but her face doesn't light up in the same, "You came back! Oh, it's a miracle! Praise God, you came back!"

Calliope is not at all possessive (yet) with her toys, perhaps because she's always had to share them with our nanny-sharing baby, but the other baby, Eleanor, is sometimes quite affectionate with me at the end of the day and Calliope definitely does not appreciate this.

She continues to be very affectionate with me, and also loves to kiss Eleanor goodbye each afternoon, multiple times. Although she doesn't see Luna nearly as often, she was obviously enjoying kissing her as well! It's especially funny that Luna is 8 pounds heavier and several inches taller than Calliope, yet Calliope managed to knock her down with the force of her affection. (See photos, below.)

"C'mere and let me lay one on you!"

"Ooh, you're delicious!"

"How about a little open-mouth action?" 
(Luna seems noticeably unimpressed by Calliope's ardor.)

"Hey baby, just lie down and relax." 

"Ahh, now I've got you right where I want you." 

We are still nursing four times a day on weekends (waking, before nap, mid-afternoon (before "quiet time" if she has it), and bedtime. She does this thing where she makes this conversational-sounding "Hmm?" against my breast that makes me completely crack up. So she keeps doing it and I start silently shaking with laughter   (because I'm trying not to interrupt her nursing) until she pulls off and laughs uproariously along with me.

She loves to help me unload the dishwasher -- when she's not trying to crawl inside it -- by handing me the clean silverware, one piece at a time.

She got her first pair of shoes, after her first pair of boots weren't supportive enough and had to be returned. She is very proud of them and carries them to me from the hallway to show them to me. She also likes to be asked to bring them to me when it's time to get ready to go (we don't wear shoes in the house). And when I'm getting ready to leave for work in the morning, she brings me her shoes in hopes that she will get to go to work with me. Ah, that would be fun and entirely unproductive!

Words: She is also very proud of her new word, cat, which sounds like "gah!" I don't know why, but she always says it with emphasis. She also says ball, which sounds like "bah," and she says "bee-bee" all the time, which can mean baby, bye bye, and sometimes... I just don't know what it means. She also says "beep" when asked"what does the little blue truck say?"

She says "uh oh," only it sounds more like "eh oh."

"Me me" is another phrase I haven't yet decoded.

She understand the concept of "hot!" now -- I showed her the heating pipe in the bathroom (I wrapped it in insulated foam so it's not hot enough to burn her but it's hot enough to be unpleasant if she wasn't expecting it.) She was scared of it at first but now she understands the concept very well. So now she walks around asking "Ha?" (hot) before touching the radiators. Sometimes she blows on them, for good measure.

She says "yeh" and "nein nein nein" for yes and no. She loves to say hi, and I hear her practicing it in her crib. If I tell her we are going to see someone, she will practice until we see them... and then, of course, she falls silently. If she hears my phone beep with a message, she holds her hand to her ear, as if she was holding a cell phone, and says questioningly, "Hi?"

If I ask her to go get one of her favorite books, for example, Doggies, she can pick it out off the bookshelves just by looking at the spines of her very large book collection (mostly hand me downs). My friend's son did this (he's a month older than Calliope) and I was extremely impressed and thought there was no way that Calliope could do this... but lo and behold, she can!

She is very, very happy to read books on the potty, and can now climb onto the potty by herself, albeit awkwardly, but almost never produces anything while sitting there. At least, not for me. She does better with the nanny. We caught one pee during this entire three day weekend.

That said, I'm planning on trying a potty training bootcamp over the Christmas break. More on that in another post.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Appeal of Transformation

Reading of B's transformation here was inspiring. I have loved following her progress as she has done a ton of self-work over the last few months, including quitting a job she loved to find one with better work-life balance, taking a sabbatical from work to heal her body and mind in preparation, among other things for a frozen embryo transfer, her silent meditation for five days, her burgeoning self knowledge that she was about to find a relationship... Amazing and inspiring! Part of me wishes I would do the same thing.

Heck, I wish I would just meditate in my very own apartment! Once a day would be great, but once, period, would be a start.

And then I'm re-reading Eat, Pray, Love which is one of my favorite books of all time. It's funny because I rarely enjoy books that are so wildly popular, but this one really speaks to me. Her particular brand of wacky self neurosis feels very familiar to me. And she goes through a year of self work and growing self awareness too, and like B, it includes lots of meditation. Again, something I wish I would do.

But mulling this over today, and thinking how I sort of wish I could go on a five day transformative journey of any sort, and how impossible that would be, logistically speaking, I realized something. The thrill of transformation is incredible.


I don't need to transform. I'm already where I need and want to be. 

For example: I work with a social worker and a medical assistant. I think the social worker sucks, frankly. I think she's totally checked out, and it's completely obvious to the students. I tried to talk to her about it, a few months into her job, and she denied feeling this way. I tried talking to management. They pretty much said, "we will take it under advisement." They may be pursuing it in a super slow sort of way (she's been with the clinic nearly three years now). Whatever they decide, I did what I could. And now, I observe from afar that I think she still sucks, and it's pretty unbelievable to me that she seems to call in sick every two weeks, but to use an expression I admire, this is "not the hill I want to die on." I think the kids deserve better. But there's nothing I can do about it. So why waste energy on it?

Every stressor that comes along -- and even minor stressors are rare these days -- I start to get anxious and then, after a minute, I think, "Eh. Whatever it is, the world is still spinning. I can pay my bills (even if my savings are slowly dwindling). I'm healthy. I have my little girl, and she's healthy, too. Everything else, whatever it is, I can handle."

I know something happened in Israel today, because I've seen Facebook posts about it. But I don't have TV, and I've lost my radio, and I haven't bothered to figure out the new one I ordered, post Sandy, which is hand-cranked and emergency ready. So I'm clueless. And happy in my bubble. Likewise, I went to bed early on election night. And when I woke up the next morning, I did not rush to my computer to find out the news -- I worked out, first.

In Eat, Pray, Love, the author talks about asking herself, "what do you want to do?" This was a radical question to her, learning to listen to her small inner voice. It turned out that what she wanted to do was learn Italian.

I ask myself this question all the time. I remember that it used to feel radical when I asked myself this question and realized that I wanted to avoid parties, and so I did. Now I ask myself this question all the time, and it turns out that what I want to do is spend time with my little girl, staying local and spending time with our four neighborhood friends and their toddlers. Every weekend. This might be boring by other people's standards, but I'm happy.

When and if I decide I want to pursue a romantic relationship, I think I will have plenty of work to do. I realize now that my childhood and my father, especially, may make it impossible for me to have a healthy relationship without doing more work. But for now, I have no desire to share my life with another adult.

So I'm feeling pretty damn lucky, even if a little envious of folks who get to experience the thrill of self transformation. I miss that kind of excitement. But I think the trade off is worth it.

Fifteen Months (Not Quite) Well Baby Visit

Doing squats off the scale at the doctor's office

Calliope's fifteen month well baby visit was today, though technically she's not fifteen months until tomorrow.

All looks great!

She's 30.5 inches (50th percentile) and I forget her head measurement but it was 25 percentile, and 19 pounds 6 ounces (5th percentile).

I was shocked that she wasn't past 20 pounds because she feels a lot heavier, but she's been consistently on the 5% curve for a little while now, well, she was below it at twelve months but back to it at 13.5 and 15 months, so the doctor is satisfied that she is growing consistently. As for me, well, it's hard to look at the rolls on her thighs and be worried!

She got three shots, including her second flu shot, and the doctor and I, who are friend-ish, had a nice chat about various topics unrelated to Calliope. She was wildly enthusiastic about the changes in my physique. That always makes me feel super awkward, because I have very mixed feeling about the attention our society pays to women's weight, but it was very flattering, too.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Mullet. By Calliope.

It's very hard to capture the awesomeness of Calliope's mullet in just one photo.

I can either get the work-in-front or the party-in-the-back aspect in a photo, but not both.

Try to use your imagination:

Who can say if her veritable comb-over is blond or brown?
(Please vote!)

Whoa! It's a veritable waterfall of hair back here! 

Friday, November 9, 2012

I Know the Secret to Success... In Just About Everything

Seriously, I've got some crazy valuable insight.

Do you want to be happier/lose weight/be more successful at work/be a better person/be smarter/be less depressed?

Okay, you ready?

The secret to success in just about everything is... getting enough sleep. Like, every single night.

So why is it so damn hard?

I am really terrible at this.

Only the last couple nights, I suddenly can't remember what it was I did all evening in front of my computer. I watched one of my three weekly shows tonight on my computer, checked "all y'all's" blogs, and am not quite sure what to do with myself next... and it's only 8:01 pm. Weird.

So I'm feeling a little boring tonight, but I reckon I will go curl up and read and who knows, maybe I will even wake up early enough to work out before Calliope wakes up? Wouldn't that be a treat on a Saturday morning?

In other news, and this is gross and you should probably stop reading if you are not in the world of potty training or diapering... Calliope pooped on the kitchen floor last night and on the bathroom floor this morning. And last night, the way I found out was I looked down at myself and asked my friend Amy, "why is there peanut butter on my hand???? Oh.... EWWWWWWW!!!!"

(Calliope had sat on the potty in the kitchen after dinner, then crawled away bare bottomed. I never even noticed this, uh, surprise, though I remembered hearing a faint sound that seemed suspicious, but she was playing quietly and all seemed normal. So much for that.)

Then she pulled the same stunt on the bathroom floor this morning while I was getting the shower ready for both of us.


On the plus side, let's just say it's very easy to clean up, and frankly, it's easier to get off the floor than off her skin.

I figure that she's just very focused on polishing her walking skills, and that it will come back soon. I hope.

I have a goal of trying a potty training boot camp over Christmas break.

The nanny thinks she's now walking more than crawling. It only took four weeks. Her walk looks a little purposeful and a little less comical now. She can even maintain her balance while walking over soft toys and the occasional book.

It's all very exciting. She was looking skinny to me earlier in the week... and now today she looks chubbier and sturdier again. It could be that she was looking skinny then because she was wearing 12 months clothing, which is still a little big on her (she's nearly 15 months) and bigger today because she was wearing a 6-12 month jumper today... but I think her face looks more filled out, also. Also, I think she has more hair. Well, on top. The hair at the back of her neck is growing at a fierce rate. She's got a wicked mullet.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sunday After Sandy

Copied from fellow SMC blog

The end of a very strange week.

The week started with Hurricane Sandy -- I can't remember when we started to even be worried about it. I know that on Friday, I had no idea that I wouldn't be coming to work on Monday.

Anyway, this resulted in my being home every day except Friday. I went into work that day without a problem, but there were no children there, and thus, no patients. And I was having computer problems so I couldn't do any "work work." So I did a little personal "work" instead, mostly cleared out my inbox. My medical assistant finally arrived... she left the very most northern tip of Manhattan (214th St.) at 6 am and arrived at our clinic in Brooklyn at, wait for it, 10:30 am!

I really hope she has a better commute tomorrow.

Tomorrow students return to school. I have no idea how many of our students have been displaced by Sandy, and what kind of shape they will be in. I really have no idea what to expect. It could be very quiet, with lots of children absent, or it could be a total sh*t show, with tons of patients because everyone's gotten sick and been without health care during the week away. Who knows?

As for my personal life, well, it was awesome being home with Calliope. I loved it. I feel guilty when I see the hundreds of emails in my inbox about volunteering... but I can't do much with a baby. There was a "child friendly sandwich making party" email... but for some reason, the contact info was cut off, and the poster didn't reply back to me until long after the "party" was over.

I have a bag of baby clothes gathered up, and will add some packages of baby wipes as well, and hope that someone will take them. It seems the response thus far has been overwhelmingly generous.

I went for a run on Thursday with Calliope, my first in probably three months, as I've been suffering from a bad case of plantar fasciitis. It seemed to go well, though it definitely showed me that "supportive" running shoes with custom orthotics may be great for walking, but are all wrong for running. I had shin splints the very next day! And as the former owner of three, yes, three stress fractures from shin splints (I completed my first marathon on them... and couldn't walk for two weeks afterwards), I take shin splints very seriously.

Two days later, I spontaneously decided to participate in a 5 km fun run to raise money for Prospect Park, which was brutalized by the storm. I wore my Vibram Five Fingers ("barefoot" running shoes) and had no shin problems this time, though my calves are amazingly tight and sore today!

I didn't feel that slow, but the sparse smattering of finishers around me were mostly alternating running and walking, so I guess I was slower than I felt! No matter. I ran the whole thing, indeed, ran it while pushing Calliope... who was none too thrilled by the morning's events.

I'm still doing the Rip 60 Program, still on Week 3. I recently cut back from five days a week to three days a week. It was just too hard to maintain the mental focus for five days per week. Keeping up the grueling pace and not slacking off during each workout takes discipline. I also felt like I had lost muscle tone in my hips from not using the elliptical or running. So now I alternate elliptical (or running) with Rip 60. It's a lot easier to feel like I'm giving 100% now when I do do the Rip 60 workout.

Of course, today I was just too sore and exhausted to do either workout. I started the warm up for Rip 60 and just the beginning stage, gently rotating limbs around joints, made me sore and tired. So I took a rare Sunday off. I hate starting the week off like this but I am a faithful believer in the edict "listen to your body." I've made the mistake of not doing so many, many times... and paid the price.

Although I don't weigh myself, I suspect I've lost somewhere around 20 pounds since last spring. I feel like I've been stagnating for a while around my current weight, up a couple, down a couple. I have a very, very hard time losing weight, so this is a huge victory. Maintaining this will take vigilance, I'm sure. I'd love to lose a bit more, but I also try hard to practice peaceful acceptance of wherever, whatever, my body is. Hating my appearance never created positive change!

A few weeks back, I started pumping twice a day at work, to help out a friend who needed milk for her newborn. And suddenly I was ravenous! And gaining weight!

I tried cutting out the extra pumping... and lo and behold... the ravenous appetite went away.

What's especially strange is that my total pumping output barely shifted by increasing to two pumping sessions a day. Still, I'm curious to see what, if anything, happens when I stop pumping entirely. Which will be... any day now. Maybe tomorrow, even! I've only pumped once in the last ten days, since I only went to work once. The milk is all going to baby Olive, whose mom seems to slowly be producing more milk.

Although twice in the last couple of weeks, Calliope has been taking swigs off of Eleanor's bottles of cow's milk! I had asked the nanny to offer Calliope one of Eleanor's bottles, but she hadn't had success. But seeing it again more recently, I think Calliope is only interested if she can casually grab a few sips while she's playing, and the nanny only feeds the girls in their highchairs. So I'm going to ask her to try giving a bottle on the floor in Calliope's room.

It would be reassuring to me to have Calliope able to take cow's milk. In a cup would be fine, too. Maybe I will ask her to offer both.

My friend has a baby scale at her house, so we all weighed our girls. According to the scale, Calliope was twenty pounds, one ounce! Finally breaking the twenty pound mark (at 14.5 months)! We will see how she measures up at the pediatricians but she looks great to me. This past Saturday, she barely ate, but then yesterday she seemed to have a hollow leg. So I think she's doing just fine.

In other news, I just bought Calliope her first pair of real shoes! A real milestone.

Naturally, she refuses to actually walk in them.

What, did you need this toilet paper for something?