Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Flying High

Cricket is headed for his first plane trip on Saturday. I have so many fears about this I have actually kept myself awake at night thinking about them. Them. The fears.

1. Although everyone says he'll be fine if he nurses at take off and landing, I'm terrified his little ears will hurt so much he won't nurse and then will scream for the two and half hour flight. And landing takes so damn long. Sometimes you start to descend and the pilot hasn't even said it's happening. What do I do if this happens?

2. If he falls asleep before take off or in the air, do I wake him to nurse? Or hope that everything will be okay?

3. Those damn seats are small. How am I going to manage nursing in them? I should be practicing nursing in a cradle hold, but we so like the football hold over here.

4. I know it's safer to have him in his own seat. Gah. This is the one that makes me feel sick. Sick, I tell you. Literally I feel like throwing up right now. But we do not have a seat for him. We used our miles to take this trip otherwise it wouldn't be happening, you know, with our house on the market and bad real estate economy, etc. Clearly on the take off and landing, I'll be nursing (hopefully) and then plan to sling him. Still... I know about the safety stats now.

5. I'm a nervous flyer. I did not used to be a nervous flyer. Going to the airport and getting on a plane was one of my favorite things to do. When I got old enough (and the credit card that allowed me entrance) I'd even get there early to enjoy a drink at the NWA lounge. Flying represented impending adventure.

Then a couple years ago we were on the worst flight ever to New Orleans. The plane was rocking back and forth. We were doing those drop hundreds of feet at once turbulence deals. You could hear the wind hitting the plane. At one, we were nose diving and Partner looked at me and said, "Are we going down?" The pilot couldn't climb over the storm, so he was trying to go under it. After about forty-five minutes of this, the pilot came on and apologized. He said if he had known it would have been that bad, he would never have left Detroit. The plane was okay, he emphasized, but he knew it was rough going.

I've never been the same since. Last summer when returning from South Carolina, I was a wreck on the planes. I should have taken something, but was pregnant. Now I'm nursing and really can't take anything again, but a Valium wouldn't be amiss.

Partner's concern is mainly with this last point. She's worried that Cricket is going to pick up on my anxiety. I've been talking myself into being calm all week, but as the day gets closer, my fears are picking up intensity. I'm so fucking good at worrying, this shouldn't be surprising, but I've got to get a check on it. I like to travel far too much for this to become an issue.


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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

(Kinda) Celebrity Look-a-Like

I admit it: I watch Regis & Kelly in the morning. They are my morning friends, after Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts. I enjoy the witty, yes witty, banter that sometimes happens on the show. I even like the guest hosts, in particular, Pat Sajak (yes, Pat Sajak, who is remarkably funny and dry. But it won't get me to watch the Wheel. I hate the Wheel.)

Anyhow, they're having a celebrity look-a-like thing which is far more fun than I thought it might be. In the spirit of their show, I thought I'd show you our own version with Cricket. Tell the similarity isn't striking:


The Infant of Prague:

Imagine the funky hat being on Cricket and think of him holding the globe. He's got the hand thing down. This is probably totally sacrilegious, but it was my mother who pointed it out to me and since I laughed so hard I nearly wet myself, I thought I should share.

I also think he bears a small resemblance to Broderick Crawford, but it's all in the cheeks.

My poor kid. I'm teasing him already in front of the whole Internet.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

House Showing with Prayers Attached

Another showing on the old (where we are living) house today. We came close this past weekend to a sale on the new house (across the street from where we are living). It was a second showing and they even came over here to talk about the "finishes" we were putting in over there. They were pretty positive about our current house and our taste seemed to jive with theirs. There was lots of proprietary talk about "this is where my desk will go" and "this is where the grand piano will sit." We were very excited. But alas, they left town undecided and want to look at more houses on the other side of the city. It doesn't mean it's not going to happen, but the odds are way down, and here we are, still owning two houses and wanting neither.

I'm thinking of that St. Joseph we buried in the front yard. Perhaps he needs some pals? More St. Joseph's? Or perhaps it's time to call out the big guns and get St. Jude, patron saint of hopeless cases? My dad told me that a woman in his office bought a house last summer, went to dig a garden, and uncovered fourteen (14!) St. Joe statues. Maybe excess is the key here too? Anyhow, I decided that the correlate of burying St. Joseph will be to post pictures of him on my blog every time we have a showing. Here's the first in the series:


Friday, April 13, 2007

Exponential [Secret] [Love]

This morning as I sat with the Cricket nursing on my lap-- both he and I still prefer the football hold-- I was thinking about how big he's gotten, easily twice the size of when he was born. And then I thought of how I loved him.

I'm going to confess something I'm hesitant to reveal, which means it's really true and "close to the bone." (I used to teach my own writing students to write 'close to the bone'-- it's honest and scary and wonderful all at the same time... See how I'm hedging my confession here?)

When the Cricket was born, I don't know if I loved him immediately. Oh, and see I don't know that love is even the correct word here because of course I loved him, even when he was in the womb. I can remember one day when I was pregnant and Partner and I were driving the Very Busy Road in our city and I had to swerve and slam on the brakes to avoid a woman who was turning left into us. I pulled over into the first parking lot and just sobbed thinking how if she had hit us, Cricket would have been in serious danger. So, yes, I loved him even then, but it was different.

When I realized that I was going to have the baby five weeks early, I stood in my sopping wet socks and cried. I wasn't ready. Yet. I was hoping to have those five more weeks to think about his impending arrival, decorate the nursery, mediate with my hands on my enormous stomach and try to get closer to the new life. Instead I sat on a towel in my Partner's truck hurtling down the expressway to the hospital three days after Christmas and tried to calm myself down. Just because things didn't start the way I wanted, it didn't mean, I thought, I couldn't have the birth I wanted. And as calm as my demeanor in the hospital was, I was scared. Scared to have the birth I wanted, more scared to have the birth I didn't want, and petrified of the new life inside of me that I would soon be responsible for in an ever-so tangible way.

Not once when we finally got the hospital did I cry, scream, or otherwise. Toward the end of the first pitocin drip when I had no epidural, I probably mooed. But to no one, not even my Partner did I admit how scared I was. Then when I was wheeled into the OR, I told them I was freezing and so they put a warming blanket over the top half of my body, but nothing could stop me from shaking. Why? Because I was not so much cold as scared shitless.

And when they showed me the Cricket, I stretched out my fingers to touch him, but no one could see since they were strapped down under the warming blanket. When they took him to the NICU, it only made me more scared. When the wheeled me into the NICU, I can remember looking at him lying on his stomach, tubes and wires attached to him. I wanted to pick him up and hold him as much as I wanted to close my eyes and not see any of it. And so while I loved him, I was more scared of him and his fragility and my responsibility for such in the first few weeks of his life. Love underlined all the fear.
Now he really is growing into a sturdy boy, just as I wanted him too. I'm not so scared, however that's not to say there isn't any fear. Tears can appear instantly if I think of something happening to him, but that's just normal mommy fear. So what's happened is that the love is growing, exponentially. As my confidence as a mother grows, so does my love for the kid. I feel totally different about him now than I did when he was first born. Instead of love underlining the fear, love is the dominant emotion now. Fear is a footnote; always present in some ways, but regulated to the end of the text. It's important enough to be present, but not so central to the text of my motherhood.

With exponential growth, the larger something gets, the faster it grows. Being one of the few geeks that actually enjoyed differential equations when I took calculus, I was thrilled when we did problems that demonstrated exponential growth. Then this past year in Microbiology, I was captivated by bacterial and their log growth in optimum conditions. Hey, I'm a dork, and you should now that by now if you read my blog. But as I studied different ways things grow, exponential growth seemed to be concept limited to things like growing interest in bank accounts and specimens of S. aureus. Probably there was some sort of learning exponential growth curve too, but I never thought of love following such a graph. Which is silly because now that I think of it, most love in my life has followed such a pattern, such that real love begets more and more love. My brothers, my parents, my partner, and now my child have all proven that such a mathematical model holds true. It would be difficult to prove in the mathematical sense, in that I have no values to place on where we started and where we're going, but if you can know in your heart a math concept is true, I know it keenly and joyfully.

I'm quite sure that I'm not the only woman who felt this way when her child was born, but isn't it taboo to talk about? What we hear is "I fell in love the minute I saw him/her" which is, as I said, true, but that love might be fraught at the start. I had to tell the truth because where I've come from that time to now is unbelievable, and reaching such new heights deserves to be chronicled. To be close to the bone. And all that love for such a wee man.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Calling All Links

Now that the Cricket takes a decent sized nap in the afternoon, I plan on updating my long unupdated blogroll. If you want a link, let me know along with the blog address. Of course, I'd love a reciprocating link too.

Also, does anyone know why I don't get email addresses with comments anymore? I used to like (to try) to respond to comments, but now it's not even an option.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Here's Our Harbringer of Spring

Pamplemousse recently posted some glorious pictures of her garden as spring comes rushing in. Never mind she's in the wilds of Scotland, further north than I am, she gets flowers and today, 11 April, we get:

Here is where we should be sitting having pleasant conversation under mild spring skies:

Here is where we should be lounging in a hammock that is still sadly coiled in the garage, probably with mice eating at it:

Here is where we should be setting the table for an evening dinner that I have grilled because the temperature is so mild and temperate after a long winter...

Here is the lavender "blooming" at the front walk:

And finally, the only real touch of spring we have, complete with an appropriate backdrop of snow?

*Long sigh* It only really started snowing an hour or so ago and it's already sticking and did I mention how much I really hate Michigan sometimes? If it gets nice and spring actually comes to this state, I might like it again, but the odds are getting slimmer.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Cricket Winners Are...

Okay, a couple weeks ago (!) I posted the Cricket contest and received many wonderful entries with fine guesses, some of them even including names we considered but that fell by the wayside. My favorite among them is Seamus, which Partner nixed saying no one would ever get that name. Now of course the name she picked no one gets either. Except for a few of you! Who are (in no particular order):

Heather from Many Pieces of Me
Pixie from Busy TarP
Marga from Firefly's Adventures

I don't think I missed anyone, but if you guessed correctly and I forgot it it's probably because I am trying to get this blog in while he's sleeping and still have time for a shower. Congrats to the Cricket winners!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

1 April

We had the best April Fools day ever. The lesbians baptized their baby in the Catholic church.

Ha, ha.

No really. We did.

Before Cricket (I almost said his name! I'll post the winners of the contest soon!)... Anyway, starting again: Before Cricket was born, and even before he was a reality, I thought about religion and his life. I feel like my own faith has gotten me through some bad times. Organized religion isn't for everyone, and I can understand that. My own Partner goes to church with me I think just to support my need for it. She's not sure what she makes of the whole thing.

I felt pretty embraced by the church until my relationship with Partner. Then things got more sticky, as you can imagine. If it was only ever going to be Partner and me, I would have had less questions about what to do. I would have stayed in the Catholic church without ever reaching out to other faiths. I would have believed my role was to stand up and make noise. Agitate for change from within, so to speak. I don't want to leave the Catholic church. The rituals have meaning for me. But I knew we wanted to start this family, so I thought again.

Was it fair to have children raised in a faith that didn't recognize the legitimacy of their family? Nope. Absolutely not. After all, one of the things that my faith taught me was about the unconditional love of God. Wasn't this just the church putting conditions on it? Does God love our family less because we are two women raising children together than he loves the family of one man and one woman? I know the answer to that in my heart, and it's a rousing no. God loves us all. And my family is so right, I just know that God smiles on us, and often. Yet the church's very position did seem answer that question with an affirmative, so I questioned.

I went to a priest and talked about it and his answer was that the church was schizophrenic on the issue. He encouraged me to explore the Episcopal church, but said he'd regret if I left the Catholic church. I listened to his words, but I didn't really hear them. We kept going to the Catholic church, at least once a month when I was scheduled to do the readings, and we went to the Episcopal church too. I liked it there. I liked the people. The smallness of the congregation compared to our large Catholic church was both refreshing and scary. If we weren't in church, people knew it. Whereas we could be gone for a year from the Catholic church we attend and I don't know that anyone would know. Yet I never felt the same after leaving the Episcopal service as I did after leaving mass. Even the services are largely the same, I just never quite got "there" after an Episcopal service. More and more we were Catholic. I haven't been to our Episcopal church in months, although we plan on attending the Easter Vigil there.

I ran into an acquaintance from this Episcopal church when I went to get my hair cut last week. She remarked on our absence, and I admitted to her that we had been increasingly Catholic, and I spilled the beans about Cricket's impending baptism. She said that she though being Catholic was a lot like being Jewish, almost a cultural thing and hard to fully ever walk away from. I get that.

When I called the Deacon about the pre-meeting for the baptism, he said I should bring my husband along. I was surprised by this because I assumed he knew I was a lesbian. I had a letter published in the Detroit Free Press when the state had the divisive proposal two on the ballot and I also very publicly walked out of the church when the Bishop sent his taped message to churches urging us to vote yes on this proposal. So taken aback, I said to him in one rushed breath, "There's no husband, but I have a partner and she's a woman; is that going to be a problem?"

"Not for me," the very conservative Deacon responded.

And it wasn't. Frankly, it hasn't been a problem for anyone we've talked to in the RC. The nun who runs the music at the church brought (only) us a book for Cricket about his baptism. It's a beautiful book. The pastor was welcoming to us as we came into church for the big day. It seems that the priest I talked to wasn't just spouting platitudes, but he was actually telling it like it is. He said there'd be some people who had a problem with it, but only because they'd be concerned about me. But I haven't run into any of those people yet, and if I did I'd try to educate them. More and more I wonder if it is our particular mission to be open and out in the Catholic church. Often Partner and I talk about how we feel like we are ambassadors for gay and lesbian people.

I was raised in an upper-middle class neighborhood-- or rather the whole city was that way. Conservative politics are de rigueur, and the whole place is rather homogeneous. There was one African American at my school. Thus this is the pool from which my parents have their friends, and when we had our commitment ceremony, many of them attended. I hazard to guess it was probably the first lesbian wedding many had attended, and I further that by supposing that it will be the last too. Not only did these friends come, but they really celebrated with us. At our baby shower, I told a few of these parental friends about the draconian adoption laws in our glorious state. Both of the women I was talking to had adopted their own children and both were appalled. Now one of them sends me clippings from her lawyers office detailing attempts to allow second parent adoption. They dote on the Cricket. I think in our own way we've changed some peoples minds about gay people.

We do this by just being who we are. I'm going to be honest here and note that I think it helps that we're perceived to be young, healthy, and in a rising middle class ourselves. Neither of us gets too strident in mixed (political-parental friend) company. We're both relatively cheerful and intelligent people. Our style is best described as preppy. I can talk about my crystal pattern. And that seems normal to these parental friends. Because we look like and act like their own children, our message about the normalcy of gay and lesbian relationships does get heard.

That's not to say that this is the only way to agitate for change. Or that everything about our relationship with the Catholic church is hunky dory. For example, when meeting with the Deacon, he commented on how certain nuns protested at the Pope's visit (John Paul, that is) and his position on women in the church. The Deacon was very critical and said they did more harm than good and I disagreed with him vehemently. I said that sometimes people did need to get up and rock the boat. That there were many ways to raise consciousness. I'm not sure he agreed with me at all, but then again, wasn't I raising his consciousness at that very moment by sitting his office with my partner discussing baptism for our son?

I'm more loose about the whole thing now. I think we've made a commitment to raise Cricket in the Catholic church, but I'm open to other faith experiences too. We'll take him to the Episcopal church also and let him make up his mind when the time comes as to how he'll choose to practice, or not practice, religion. I'll be honest with him about the shortcomings of the Catholic faith and the Episcopal and others for that matter.

Yet all in all, I can say the day was wonderful. He looked elegant in a baptismal gown that is over 150 years old, worn by many members of his family. He slept when the poured the water over his head. His family-- my family, Partner's family-- all came together on a beautiful sunny day to celebrate the role of God in his life. And ultimately that is what mattered.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Why I Don't Blog More

Or a more in depth portrait: