Stuff on My Baby's Butt

This is not a post about poo. Or diaper contents of any kind. So those with weak constitutions can feel secure in reading on.

As I've mentioned before, Isabella has been the recipient of many adorable outfits. Little white dresses. Overalls. A snowsuit complete with bunny ears. She's even received a pumpkin costume for Halloween (although I have another costume idea up my sleeve). But a few weeks ago she received a pair of pants the rear of which is pictured below from a friend of Rich's dad.

So I'm going to go on record and say that I hate these pants. I know. I'm ungrateful. I'm inconsiderate. And I'm probably in the minority too. You probably think they're, well, cute. But I have never been a fan of the "inappropriate message on the ass cheeks of pants/shorts/skirts" that seems to be all the rage in girls' clothing. To me, these messages spattered across the butt area of girls' clothing sends an overtly sexualized message. Do I want some pervert staring at my 5 or 10 or 15 year old daughter's ass in a few years, checking out the message Target or Macy's decided would be cool to put there? Hell no. And does anyone remember this controversary from a few years ago?

Now, I know Isabella is a baby. No one is going to stare inappropriately at her butt (and after seeing what comes out of there, trust me, no one would want to). But have you been in the children's clothing departments of any stores lately? The clothes marketed toward little girls seem to be designed to outfit the world's tiniest little hookers. Seriously, people. I've seen tiny miniskirts, half shirts, and halter tops, in sizes to fit first graders. And a trip to the elementary school where my husband taught last year confirmed that little girls indeed were sporting clothing best left for the pre-Richard Gere makeover of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. And clothing maufacturers are to blame (and of course, so are the parents of the kids, who are presumably seeing fit to dress their girls like the Pussycat Dolls).

So back to Ella's pants. I don't think I'm going to dress her in these. I already know she's a cutie. I don't need someone to read about it on the diaper-covered cheeks of her rear end.

Now, my grandma has a whole other set of ideas on what makes clothing inappropriate for babies. In her eyes, anything other than a long-sleeved onesie with feet is completely unnecessary for Isabella to wear, and dressing her in anything but borders on child endangerment. You see, grandma believes that babies are most comfortable in these onesies. The aformentioned overalls? Too scratchy and too bunchy around her neck. Dresses or pants or t-shirts? Well, Ella is likely to freeze to death, even though we've had some really warm temperatures here in the past few weeks. And allowing her hands to roam free of the undershirts with mitten guards, designed to keep her from scratching herself (and me)? Well, that's just unconscionable.

One day last week, I dressed Isabella in an adorable little brown and white striped outfit that her Aunt Karrie gave her. Grandma came over to see Isabella, and watched her while I took a walk. When I came back, the outfit was off and she had a onesie on. And the reason given for the outfit change? Apparently she was changing a diaper and didn't want it to get dirty. Uh-huh.

So now I present to you two outfits that would cause grandma to have a coronary if she came over and saw Isabella wearing them. They are short-sleeved! Gasp! Boo! Hiss! And, they don't have feet on the bottom. Hideous!

However, I love them, and think she looks pretty darn cute to boot. Now, you'll have to excuse me while I quickly bundle Ella up in 14 layers. Grandma's on her way over.

See, this outfit's not so bad. It's helping me perfect my Riverdance posture.

The party is, indeed, at my crib. Last night, it was from 12:25am until 4:45am. Wanna come over and play?

Okay, the party is officially over.

The Wall

A friend of mine who had also underwent ART (assisted reproductive technology) to conceive her child and I were talking a few months ago about the strange and abrupt finality of things once a clinic patient gets pregnant. You see your reproductive endocrinologist several times a week for months (sometimes years) on end. He or she has witnessed your tears at your first consultation, which has likely come after months of trying to get pregnant. He/she has seen you at your most vulnerable, and in the most vulnerable of positions more times than you can count. You’ve placed your desire for a child in this doctor’s hands (in my case, multiple times), and when the attempts to conceive failed, he or she always had a plan ready for your next attack.

Yet when that long-awaited day arrived, when you learned that your body had finally achieved that which every one else in the world seemed to be able to do without getting nightly ass injections and shelling out their life savings, the relationship with this doctor, which had become incredibly close throughout the course of your treatment. came to a screeching halt, like a boyfriend who just suddenly stopped calling.

My last contact with my clinic was on Monday, January 9th of this year. It was the day we first saw Isabella and her heartbeat thumping away on the ultrasound machine. After that appointment, I only saw my regular OB. I didn’t hear from my fertility doctor after that point. As far as I knew, they wouldn’t know if my pregnancy was carried to term or not. And that seemed so strange to me. I guess I expected something. A phone call to check how things were going halfway through the pregnancy, perhaps. After all, for a place in the business of creating miracles, you’d think someone there would be interested in the outcome of their hard work.

Of course, I had forgotten all about The Wall.

Mounted on the hallway wall on the way back to the exam rooms at my fertility clinic are hundreds (maybe more) of tiny little engraved plaques. Each bears the first name and date of birth of a baby born as a result of ART at my clinic. I walked by that wall hundreds of times in the course of the 15 months I was treated there. To me, that wall represented hope. So many couples had achieved success at my clinic, and here was the proof. Especially fun to see were the plaques with two (and sometimes three) names on them, representing twins and triplets. And I wondered if I would ever have a name to place on the wall to signify my success. And yesterday I got my chance.

The IVF coordinator called to check on my "outcome." I told her I had a daughter on August 22nd. She asked for Isabella's name, weight, whether she was healthy or had any medical problems, and how my pregnancy was. And then she asked if I wanted Ella's name on the wall, to which I answered, "definitely." Since this was the first time I had talked to anyone at the clinic since January, and because they are repsonsible for giving me the gift of my daughter, I thanked her for helping to work a miracle. And she said how happy she was that they had been able to help me. I wanted to add, "Hey, take good care of my four frozen future children until I need them," but I refrained.

So Isabella will get her own tiny plaque on The Wall, one baby born among hundreds of others as a result of cutting-edge medical technology. And maybe someday, a girl will walk down that hallway in the shoes I used to wear, see Isabella's name on the wall, and feel a sense of hope where there used to be none at all. And maybe, just maybe, having hope will make a difference for her.

Infected Boobs and Skinny Jeans

Remember my posts (here and here) earlier in the summer about other people's boobs? Well, this post is about my own. The girls, they are infected.

Last Thursday evening, my father-in-law and his wife were visiting us. They came late (or late for us these days) at around 7pm, and they didn't leave until after nine. Prior to their visit, a coworker of mine was visiting. And instead of taking Isabella upstairs to feed her during either of these two visits, I let her sleep contently through the company. Well, she may have been happy to miss a meal, but my boobs certainly weren't. By the time I did feed her, the girls were huge and hard and hurting. I figured the pain would go away once she finished nursing. And it didn't.

That night I awoke for her first middle-of-the-night feeding around 1am sweating through my nightshirt. A few hours later, I woke up to feed her and I couldn't get warm. I was freezing. I took my temperature in the morning, and it was 101. Then I consulted my friendly breastfeeding book, checked out the girls to find the right one red and inflammed, and self-diagnosed myself with mastitis, or a breast infection. I made an appointment with my OB, called my aunt to come over and watch Isabella, and came home with a 10-day antiobiotic prescription.

Let me just say that I am never, EVER going to let her go longer than three hours without feeding her again. Because seriously, ouch. Breast infections hurt.

But the last two days have not all been filled with misery. The planets did align in my favor yesterday when lo and behold...I fit into a pair of my skinny jeans! Now, when I say skinny, I'm not referring to the Gap Commercial Audrey Hepburn-style Skinny Pants. And not to get off-topic here but what is up with these pants anyway? I read an article a few months ago that said that one of the new fall trends are this style of pants and jeans. Not believing this, because truly, it's got to be somewhere near 0.000002% of the population of women who can actually wear these pants without looking like overstuffed sausages, I asked my sister, seer of haute couture, to please say it ain't so. Needless to say, she couldn't, and instead confirmed that yes, indeed, these pants were coming back, and are no longer banished to the back of 1988's closet, along with banana clips and L.A. Gear sneakers.

Ahem, moving on.

So I wrote a few weeks ago that I was still wearing my maternity clothes because I didn't have the time or energy to try on any of my regular clothes. Well, yesterday I decided to give the jeans the old college try. And I call them my "skinny" jeans not because they're a size 0, but simply because they aren't my "fat" jeans. You know the kind. You even have a pair or two. I know you do. They're the jeans you wear once a month for a few days. Or for that long four-day weekend during the last week in November. Or, if you're like me with an Italian aunt who makes over 3,000 cookies a year at Christmas time, perhaps you wear them for the last two weeks in December. Anyway, back to the skinny jeans. They fit! The skies opened. The angels sang. And I did a little happy dance that no one but Chubbie the cat, sitting on my bed, witnessed.

Now, I won't say they aren't a bit snug still, because they are. And I won't say that I don't have a small tummy to still get rid of, because I do. But it's quite the coup for me that these jeans fit at all because I'm still a good 10 pounds heavier than I was a year ago, when I bought these jeans while visiting Karrie in Seattle. So, how does that work exactly? My thought it that the weight has shifted up to the girls, who are now even larger and more in charge than ever before. Because for all intents and purposes, those jeans shouldn't fit yet. And I haven't tried on my Citizens of Humanity jeans (the designer jeans dear sis convinced me to spend a small fortune on during that same Seattle trip). Frankly, I'm chicken, and I fear I will cry like a seven year old girl if they don't fit yet, so I'm going to wait until I'm certain they will before attempting to put them on. I'm hoping my OB clears me to start running again at my six-week postpartum checkup in a few weeks. And then I will really start delving into my closet of regular clothes again, instead of wearing the same five shirts and two pairs of jeans/pants that I've been wearing for the past month or so.

And on a completely unrelated note, one of the blogs on my blogroll seems to have disappeared. Does anyone know what happened to Princess?

24-Hour Surveillance, Tow Trucks, and Sheer and Utter Exhaustion

My sister-in-law, who is a mom herself, warned me right before I had Ella that following our arrival home, and the influx of friends and relatives that want to see the baby the first week, I will become quite lonely and feel isolated being alone all day, everyday, with a baby and no one to talk to. Clearly my sister-in-law doesn't know how things work in my family. I have not been alone with Ella for the entire nine hour stretch that Rich is at work since the day she was born. And frankly, it's driving me a little crazy.

Now, as you know, I love my family to death. They are the most supportive, loving, and generous group of people, and have helped me in myriad ways with Ella. They've cooked us meals. Done our laundry. Straightened up our house. And I am immensely grateful for this. But they've been around a lot. A LOT. And there's a big part of me that wants to see if I can do this here rearin' of the babe myself. I want to establish a routine with her (I am a creature of habit), and I can't do that if they're here all the time. Much as I love them to pieces, I wish they would come over for an hour, visit with Ella, drop off dinner (they love to cook, so who am I to deny them their life's ambition? And the baby mama's gotta eat, you know), and then take off. I realize this makes me sound like a horribly ungrateful girl. Believe me, I have huge guilt over these feelings. But at the same time, being an introvert at heart, I need my alone time.

Okay. There. I've said it. You can throw the tomatoes now.

In other news, Ella had her very first tow truck ride last week. She enjoyed it so much that she told me later on that once she turns 16, she wants one as her first vehicle. I took her to her second pediatrician visit last Thursday. She's now 7 pounds, 1 ounce, but in only the 10th percentile for weight, and the 25th for length. Her doctor says she's "petite." On the way home, I stopped at the bank to deposit my pitiful short-term disability check via the drive-thru. And when I was through and went to shift my car out of park and into wouldn't. A very nice girl who had pulled up behind me lent me her cell phone (yes, I am one of the four individuals left on planet Earth without one), and I called a garage to arrange a tow. Strangely enough, I wasn't as paniced as I thought I'd be at the thought of putting my then two-week daughter in the cab of a dirty, stinky tow truck. And the driver was very nice (despite telling me I could nurse her in the cab if I wanted while he hooked up my car, and that he was a father, so it was all good. Um, no. That's okay. While I may be in the habit of flashing the girls to all and sundry, I draw the line at complete strangers covered in motor oil.)

And, as is our luck, Rich's car crapped out on him on the exact same day. Total cost to fix both our cars: almost $1,000. Awesome.

Finally, I am tired. Really tired. I'm getting about 5-6 hours of sleep a night, but in small chunks. I usually try to go to bed around 9 or 10. Ella is up at midnight or 1am to nurse, and then again a few hours later. We're usually up for the day around 6:30 or 7am.

I'm sure this is breaking news to you all but mothering a newborn is seriously exhausting. It's funny. It's very hard to explain how much your life changes once you become a mother. One day you're nine months pregnant, and while uncomfortable, you're still in charge of your life. You get up when you want, you eat when you want, and your time is your own. And then, the very next day, there's this baby in your arms, who completely changes the entire course of your existence, as well as every aspect of your life that you could previously call "your routine." All of a sudden, she dictates when you get up (which is often and at hours no human being should see on a regular basis), when you get to eat (if at all), and the time you previously called "your own"? Well, that's virtually non-existent. And no matter how wonderfully involved your husband is (and mine is, believe me), a man's life doesn't change even half as much as a woman's when a child enters the picture.

But everytime I see this face staring out at me from her bassinett by my bed, be it 1am, 3am, or 6am, I remember that the importance of sleep pales in comparison to the immense joy Isabella has brought to my life. And I wouldn't trade that for anything in the world.

Observations on New Motherhood

I've been a mom now for two weeks. I can't believe Ella was born just a short time ago, because it seems as if she was always here. In reality, of course, she's been a part of my life now for 10 months. Being Ella's mom has brought so much joy to my life in ways I never thought imaginable. And when I'm holding her in one of her brief alert stages throughout the day, and she looks up into my eyes, I know she knows I'm her mom. The person who fed her a daily diet of peanut butter and Doritos for nine months. Who helped her dad sing "Islands in the Stream" to her each night before bed. Who sold a kidney and 15 bags of platlets for the chance to bring her into the world. I kid on the last one, of course.

I've learned so much in the past two weeks. My mom came to stay with us for about 10 days to teach me how not to break her. So far, so good. All her limbs are still intact. But I've learned several other things not taught by mamacita. Here's my list, in no particular order.

1. Thirteen years of Catholic school education, which in part taught me to speak no evil and show no skin, have all been flushed down the toilet, as my house has now become a scene straight out of National Geographic magazine. Normally a very discreet girl, I have now flashed my breasts, Ella attached, to every female member of my family, several of my friends, and even Ella's pediatrician, thanks to a crying jag during her first visit. (Incidentally, my pediatrician invited me to nurse her during her visit, and even offered to leave the room while I did so.) It's so completely weird, I can't even explain it. Because while I thought I would be completely skeeved out by it, I'm not. Perhaps my long suppressed exhibitionist tendencies are just now being given the chance to shine.

2. People like to buy little girls pink things. A lot. The pink, it is everywhere. Ella has received so many wonderful and adorable gifts, 99% of which are pink. Or contain pink. Or appear pink when held in a certain light. Little girls' clothing does come in other colors, does it not? Now, some of these pink-buying people know my feelings about the color. Pink and I are not really friends. I made it known when I was pregnant that I didn't want an explosion of pink in my house if I had a girl. Pink in moderation? Okay by me. Pink to the exclusion of all the other nice colors out there? Not okay. All this said, I'm coming around to the pink. I suppose I don't have a choice, right?

3. I now go out in public looking like shit. Now, granted, I'm not one of those girls that has to look like she just stepped out of the Anthropologie catalog before she leaves the house. I'll leave the fashionista extraordinaire role to my sister. But I used to, you know, do my hair and stuff before I'd leave. And most of the time, I'd wear at least a little makeup. But, since Ella, I have made brief trips to the mall, a tuxedo shop (Rich was in a wedding last weekend), Dunkin Donuts, and Ella's pediatrician looking a bit too much like Courtney Love on Monday morning. I don't have the energy, the interest, and most of all, the time to put into my appearance anymore. I'm still wearing some of my maternity jeans and shirts, and not because I can't fit into some of my old clothes yet, but because I don't have the time to see what fits and what doesn't yet. And strangely, I don't care.

4. One good burp out of the girl can make my day. Ella is not a good burper. And when she does, the happiness it causes in me is sometimes embarrassing.

5. Time evaporates. I'm home pretty much all day, everyday. And seriously, I will sometimes look at the clock, and it's noon, and I haven't showered yet. I have so much to do. My house is a sty (this despite my relatives constantly cleaning it for me), and I have so many thank you notes to write for all the fab stuff so many (including some of you!) have bought for her. Thank you, thank you to those of you who have sent/given Ella gifts. You will receive a proper thank you in the mail soon. I promise.

6. Once again, blog friends rock. I can't tell you how much it meant to me to visit your blogs in the past two weeks and see announcements about Ella's birth. I have the best readers on the web. Seriously, you are wonderful. I can't wait until I have more time to catch up on all of your blogs and your lives. Please know that even though I'm not reading everyday, I am still reading your words, even if I don't comment.

Here's Ella after her first bath last week. Pink courtesy of her grandma.

The Ellapalooza Birth Story

On August 22nd, exactly one week and three days ago, at exactly 10:30am, Ella was born. Her birth followed a sleepless night had by her parents, a party of 19 relatives in my labor and delivery "holding cell" that closely resembled an event along the lines of OzFest or Lollapalooza (minus the mosh pits), and possibly the weirdest physical experience I've ever had in my 30 years.

Once we arrived at the hospital (and by "we" I mean my mom, #4, who, incidentally, behaved himself for the entire day and took some pretty nice photos, Rich, and of course, me), I was directed to my cubicle, instructed to disrobe, and stuck with an IV. I climbed into my bed on wheels, and then proceeded to lay there in all my unadorned finery (hospital gown, no makeup, nada) as my relatives and a few of Rich's relatives streamed in. There was coffee in hand by most (none for me, of course). There was banana bread baked fresh that morning by my great aunt being passed around. And I felt like the stuffed Thanksgiving turkey that all gathered around to see. It was seriously a mob scene in there. What the nurses must have thought, I have no idea.

As the minutes ticked by until 9:30, the time I was scheduled for delivery, all eyes were on the clock, because Aunt Karrie was due to arrive at any moment, and she really wanted to see me before I was taken into the OR. Karrie hadn't seen me pregnant. Well, she actually did at my surprise 30th birthday party in March, when I was 18 weeks, but I was hardly showing then. She desperately wanted to see the ginormous Beastie belly in all its glory. And then she arrived.

And see me she did.

Aunt Karrie was clearly horrified.

Shortly afterward, I said goodbye to the masses, and they wheeled me into the OR, minus Rich, who would join me once the epidural was in. The OR was freezing. There were about 10 doctors and nurses in the room. All for me! Dr. C, the OB doing my c-section came in, and instructed me to lean into her, and arch my back so I could receive the epidural. She tried to distract me by asking me of the names we had picked out. She also inquired as to the mob out in the hall. "Italian family, right?" she asked. "My family is exactly the same way. You can't ever do anything alone. Including giving birth." How right she was.

So, the epidural. It actually wasn't too bad. It felt like a really bad bee sting. And then...nothing. My feet started getting numb. Some nurses immediately moved my legs back onto the table I was sitting on the edge of. And I could feel the numbness moving from my feet up my body. And then things started to move. Up went the tarp in front of my face so I couldn't see my inards laid out on the table below me. My arms were extended to my sides, blood pressure cuff and heart rate monitor on one, IV in the other. And I could sense that something was going on down below. But no one was speaking to me to tell me what was going on.

Then, Rich arrived, suited head to toe in a blue gown and a mask. He told me that the incision was already made. He kept up a steady stream of meaningless conversation with me, the content of which I can't remember, in order to distract me. I felt pulling and tugging. Then yanking. Dr. C then tells me, "Okay Kristi, you're going to feel some pressure." And Oh. My. God, was that the understatement of the year. It felt as if someone took their two fists, leaned over my body, and pressed as hard as they could on my upper belly. It literally took my breath away.

But a few minutes later, Dr. C was telling me to look up, over the tarp. She said, "It's an Isabella!!" and I saw my daughter's dark, blueish body flailing around at the top of the blue tarp. She was screaming bloody murder.

And Beastie was a Beastie no more.

The rest of that day was a blur. They stapled me up. I was wheeled back to my "holding cell" while my room was prepared, and two by two, my relatives came to visit and meet Isabella. Recovering from the c-section in the days that followed in the hospital really wasn't as bad as I imagined. Percocet and I became intimately acquainted (can you believe it's my hospital's policy not to give mothers pain medication on a regular schedule. Instead, you have to ask for it. Um, hello? I was just cut open and had a baby ripped from my belly. And you don't want to medicate me?) I had one horrible day when I was in excrutiating pain from trapped gas caused my the surgery. The onset unfortunately coincided with Marie's visit. She saw me at my absolute worst, and let me just say, it wasn't pretty. After several hours of massive pain, I received another pain medication, on top of the two I had already taken. That resulted in me booting into the basin that was supposed to be Isabella's take-home bathtub. Whoops. Later on, I took an agonizing three-lap tour around my floor's unit, and mercifully the gas...passed around 1am. Oh sweet mother of God, was that a relief.

We came home one week ago today. Took Ella to her pediatrician on Monday of this week (is it a bad sign that I keep refering to her pediatrician as "the vet"?) where she was declared "perfect." She even gained back all her birth weight. We took her home at 6 pounds, 3 ounces, and she was 6 pounds, 11 ounces at her doctor's visit.

She's a good baby, really. Which is what most new mothers would tell you about their offspring, I would imagine. But she really doesn't cry unless she needs something. Which is mainly the boob or a clean diaper. I'm exhausted, but I expected to be. Motherhood, especially when you have a newborn, is a 24/7 job. I'm averaging about 4-5 hours of sleep a night, which is certain to be more like 3-4 once my mom goes home, since she's been getting up with me at night to burp, diaper, and re-swaddle the little girl, while I go back to bed. And I'm learning to nap, something I absolutely couldn't do before she was born. This new life of mine has taken some getting used to. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

So this doctor I'm going to... she's going to want to see me naked, isn't she? Because I am so not cool with that.

*As a side note, it has taken me three days to complete this post. I would write a paragraph, and then fall asleep. Write another, and have to feed Ella. Start to write it again, and my mom, who knows not of this blog (for obvious, #4-related reasons), would come into the room and ask me why I was "playing" on my computer again. I never thought my life would be as radically different from the one I had not two weeks ago. But that's a topic for another post.

I so miss reading all your blogs. Mamacita leaves on Sunday, and so next week I hope to establish a regular routine with Ella, which will allow me more time to blog. I figure my cats can learn to change a few diapers and keep the babe entertained while I'm busy on my laptop, right?

Oh, and one more thing! I received a the August Perfect Post award courtesy of Practigal. She nominated my last two posts. I'm so honored. Thank you, Marie!

A Perfect Post

Quick Snapshot:

  • 34-year-old writer and
    mother to a daughter
    born in August 2006 following
    IVF and girl/boy twins born in October 2008 following FET. Come along as I document the search for my lost intellect. It's a bumpy ride. Consider yourself warned.

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