Friday, March 31, 2006

18 months ago today

...I waddled into the OB's office for my 39-week checkup. My blood pressure had been fine for the whole pregnancy, but not that day.

"Look at that, your blood pressure has really shot up," the doctor said.

"Oh, really, what does that mean?"

"That means you have toxemia. And the cure for that is to get that baby out. I'm calling over to Labor and Delivery now to let them know -- we're going to induce you tonight."

"Oh my God."

A few hours later, Mr. Fraulein and I were back at the hospital, clutching my overnight bag and pillows from home. There can't be a more surreal feeling in this life than the crazy, overwhelming anticipation of taking off your clothes, getting into one of those delightful hospital nightgowns, and settling your giant self into that adjustable hospital bed, knowing that very soon, your baby is coming out. I had never been in the hospital before in my life. I will never forget how odd it felt to be in that room, dragging my IV pole with me every time I had to go to the bathroom. Sitting watching TV with the baby monitor stretched over my swollen belly. Taking phone calls from my freaked-out parents.

They started the induction later that evening by giving me a drug called Cervidil to soften up my cervix. After this, feeling just minor cramps, I went to sleep.

Then the next morning -- 18 months ago tomorrow -- Pitocin. This was the thing I'd been dreading, after so many friends' stories of Pitocin-induced labors that lasted 18, 24, 30 hours and more. A few hours later, I was surrounded by what seemed like a cast of thousands in the delivery room, cheering me on, chanting, yelling, PUSH! PUSH! And the waves of pain, ebbing and flowing like water, going away completely in between the contractions, which came as such a surprise to me. And Mr. Fraulein clutching my hand.

Somebody up in the sky, or somewhere, was smiling on me that day. In spite of the Pitocin, after just nine hours of labor (including two hours of pushing) the Peanut emerged, yelling, into the world. Mr. Fraulein heard her yelling before she even came out. And after nine months of thinking she was a boy, we discovered that we had a little girl Peanut on our hands.

The first things I saw were her feet. "It's a girl!" people yelled from all directions. I was stunned. I had truly felt like some cosmic voice was telling me I was having a boy. So much for mother's intuition.

And then they gave me an ice bag to sit on, and someone produced a hospital dinner that tasted, to me at that moment, like it came from the finest restaurant in the world. And the Peanut aced her APGAR test and settled onto my breast for her first meal.

Happy 18-months-in-the-world, little Peanut!

More on Scalia

The Boston Herald has been digging into the story of what really happened when Antonin Scalia supposedly gave a reporter the finger in a recent event at a Boston church. If this account is true, what he actually did is even worse:

Smith was working as a freelance photographer for the Boston archdiocese’s weekly newspaper at a special Mass for lawyers Sunday when a Herald reporter asked the justice how he responds to critics who might question his impartiality as a judge given his public worship.

“The judge paused for a second, then looked directly into my lens and said, ‘To my critics, I say, ‘Vaffanculo,’ ” punctuating the comment by flicking his right hand out from under his chin, Smith said.

The Italian phrase means “(expletive) you.”
As someone with literally dozens of hotheaded, easily offended Sicilian relatives, I can tell you for a fact that to say "vaffanculo," accompanied by that flicking-the-hand-out-from-under-the-chin action, does not mean "(expletive) you." It actually means "go take it up the ass."


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Monday, March 27, 2006

But what will we tell the children?

I'm going to let this one speak for itself. Well, except to say that as a Sicilian, I am appalled...

Justice Scalia flips the finger in church

BOSTON, March 27 (UPI) -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia startled reporters in Boston just minutes after attending a mass, by flipping a middle finger to his critics. A Boston Herald reporter asked the 70-year-old conservative Roman Catholic if he faces much questioning over impartiality when it comes to issues separating church and state. "You know what I say to those people?" Scalia replied, making the obscene gesture and explaining "That's Sicilian."

The 20-year veteran of the high court was caught making the gesture by a photographer with The Pilot, the Archdiocese of Boston's newspaper. "Don't publish that," Scalia told the photographer, the Herald said. He was attending a special mass for lawyers and politicians at Cathedral of the Holy Cross, and afterward was the keynote speaker at the Catholic Lawyers' Guild luncheon.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Friday lit. blogging: J.K. Rowling

From my favorite book of the series so far, Order of the Phoenix:

"You two," she went on, gazing down at Fred and George, "are about to learn what happens to wrongdoers in my school."

You know what?" said Fred. "I don't think we are."

He turned to his twin.

"George," said Fred, "I think we've outgrown a full-time education."

"Yeah, I've been feeling that way myself," said George lightly.

"Time to test our talents in the real world, d'you reckon?" asked Fred.

"Definitely," said George.

And before Umbridge could say a word, they raised their wants and said together, "Accio Brooms!"

Harry heard a loud crash somewhere in the distance. Looking to his left he ducked just in time --Fred and George's broomsticks, one still trailing the heavy chain and iron peg with which Umbridge had fastened them to the wall, were hurtling along the corridor toward their owners. They turned left, streaked down the stairs, and stopped sharply in front of the twins, the chain clattering loudly on the flagged stone floor.

"We won't be seeing you," Fred told Professor Umbridge, swinging his leg over his broomstick.

"Yeah, don't bother to keep in touch," said George, mounting his own.

Fred looked around at the assembled students, and at the silent, watchful crowd.

"If anybody fancies buying a Portable Swamp, as demonstrated upstairs, come to number ninety-three Diagon Alley - Weasley's Wizard Wheezes," he said in a loud voice. "Our new premises!"

"Special discounts to Hogwarts students who swear they're going to use our products to get rid of this old bat," said George, pointing at Professor Umbridge.

"STOP THEM!" shrieked Umbridge, but it was too late. As the Inquisitorial Squad closed in, Fred and George kicked off from the floor, shooting fifteen feet into the air, the iron peg swinging dangerously below. Fred looked across the hall at the poltergeist bobbing on his level above the crowd.

"Give her hell from us, Peeves."

And Peeves, whom Harry had never seen take an order from a student before, swept his belled hat from his head and sprang to a salute as Fred and George wheeled about to tumultuous applause from the students below and sped out of the open front doors into the glorious sunset.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Diagnosis: Not diabetes, just run-of-the mill thirst

The Peanut had a little medical excitement this week. Fortunately it turned out to be nothing, but it was a bit scary at first. She has seen more than her share of doctors lately, as a result of follow-up appointments we've had to ensure that everything is OK after her bout with pneumonia from a few months back. A recent follow-up chest X-ray showed she still had a bit of fluid in the lungs, so we were told to give her albuterol through a machine called a nebulizer (it comes out as a mist that she inhales through a face mask. And toddlers love nothing better than being held down for 10 minutes so they can get medicine! Luckily, we have discovered the amazing powers of Elmo DVDs. That keeps her calm for a little while.)

At the same time as we started this regimen, she began drinking quite a bit more fluids than usual. It was something we sort of took note of, but didn't freak out over.

Then came the input from the teachers at the day care. "Do you realize she's drinking twice as much each day as every other kid in the room?" they said. So I called the lung doctor and asked if this was a side effect of the albuterol.

"No, but she could have diabetes," the lung doctor said. Cue freak out.

Yesterday it was back to the primary care pediatrician for a blood test. Thank God, the test showed she does not have diabetes. So what is it then, we asked?

"She's thirsty," the pediatrician said.

Actual Bush press conference quotes

This Bush press conference transcript is not from The Onion, although it reads like it is. Here are a few choice excerpts, which, as Dave Barry would say, I am not making up:

- “Foreign policy used to be dictated by the fact we had two oceans protecting us. If we saw a threat, we could deal with it if you needed to you think, or not, but we'd be safe.”

- “9/11 affected the way I think. I know these are like totalitarian fascists. They have an ideology. They have a desire to spread that ideology. And they're willing to use tactics to achieve their strategy.”

- “The problem is our employers don't know whether they're hiring people, because there's a whole forgery industry around people being smuggled into the United States. There's a smuggling industry and a forgery industry. And it's hard to ask our employers, the onion guy out there, whether or not the documents he's being shown which look real are real.”

Friday, March 17, 2006

St. Patrick's Day lit. blogging: James Joyce edition

The very last bit of Ulysses:

O that awful deepdown torrent O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and the pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Another Massachusetts blogging mama

Since I joined the CrazyHipBlogMamas webring, I've been trying to check out some of the other blogs. There is some first class writing going on here! Check out this hilarious entry from "Breed Em and Weep," which is written by another Mass. blogging mama. Good stuff.


From the Tom Tomorrow blog, This Modern World:

Yesterday on CNN, Ed Henry gave the following update on the Feingold censure resolution:

"What just happened a few minutes ago is that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, the reason why there was an objection, is Frist declared he wants to bring this up for an immediate vote tonight, so it will not be a free pass. He wants to get Democrats on record here, make them decide whether they want to take what could be seen as an extreme stand and vote for a censure of President Bush. Frist is gambling that in fact this will go down something like 85-to-15 or 90-10 because a lot of Democrats are
probably saying they will not support this."

Assuming only ten Democrats end up supporting the censure resolution, where does that leave us? Well, take a look at these internals from the latest CBS poll (via Atrios):

If only 10 of 44 Democrats are willing to stand against the President, that gives Bush a greater approval rating among Democratic Senators (77%) than among his own base (74%). Cowards.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Misogynist, weak, and oh so sad

Read it and weep. What a sad, weak, penis-envying bunch of men run the Boston Globe, which never loses an opportunity to publish some idiot fawning over the latest "academic" to insist that women can't run businesses, can't run countries, and should stay in the kitchen and shut the ... up.

Woolf knew this guy. Harvey Mansfield, regrettably, existed in her time too, and she nailed him in A Room of One's Own:

"The most transient visitor to this planet, I thought, who picked up this paper could not fail to be aware, even from this scattered testimony, that England is under the rule of a patriarchy. Nobody in their senses could fail to detect the dominance of the professor. His was the power and the money and the influence. He was the proprietor of the paper and its editor and sub–editor. He was the Foreign Secretary and the judge. He was the cricketer; he owned the racehorses and the yachts. He was the director of the company that pays two hundred per cent to its shareholders. He left millions to charities and colleges that were ruled by himself. He suspended
the film actress in mid–air. He will decide if the hair on the meat axe is human; he it is who will acquit or convict the murderer, and hang him, or let him go free. With the exception of the fog he seemed to control everything. Yet he was angry."

What is this Mansfield character so angry about? And what does the Globe think it's doing running a column that presents him in such a positive light, with barely a whimper of dissent against his Neanderthal views? The tone of this column makes me sick. Mansfield is presented as being such a rebel, so brave in his insistence upon promoting his own special brand of bull at Harvard.

Toddler Dance Party

When Mr. Fraulein and I dropped the Peanut off at day care this morning, we found that the place was already in full Toddler Dance Party mode. For some reason they had the radio on, which they don't always do in the early a.m., and Donna Summer's "Last Dance" was playing. There was much boogie-ing going on among the 16- to 24-month-old set. (It's hard to appreciate the full hilariousness of this unless you were there to see it.) The Peanut jumped right in. Fun was had by all.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Empathy at 17 months

Something happened last night which I found pretty remarkable. Mr. Fraulein, the Peanut and I were hanging out in the living room. He was eating a snack, and suddenly started choking and coughing. It looked worse than it was--he really was fine--but he did need to go into the kitchen to get a glass of water. In the 30 seconds or so that he sat there before he got up, the Peanut turned to see what was going on, and a dark cloud passed over her face. She didn't start to cry, but she looked very concerned.

Mr. Fraulein walked to the kitchen, and the Peanut followed. "Daddy?" she said. "Daddy?" Her tone of voice was much different than usual. Normally, when she says Mama or Daddy, she's either just saying hi or trying to get our attention so she can ask for food or a toy, This time, she was asking if Daddy was OK. I think that says a lot about how tuned in our kids are to us, even at this age.

Monday, March 06, 2006

One of these things is not like the others

Here's another way that being a parent changes a person irrevocably. My main preoccupation lately is trying to come up with some way of dealing with the fact that things like this and this and this happen in the world where I have to, somehow, raise my kid. Before you become a parent, you know on an intellectual level that the world is an evil and dangerous and miserable place; having a baby makes it personal. You start to think about all the other babies too, and wonder what is going to happen to them. And the next thing is wondering how on earth you can do anything about it, when the traditional remedies of protesting and writing letters to Congress and other such things don't do a damn bit of good anymore. No more representative government (only those who can write big checks need apply); no more free press; and bingo--no more democracy.

Maybe this only proves that in my pre-motherhood days, I only took a token interest in the world around me, and it took having a baby to wake me up; I don't know. I hope the efforts I used to make to work on behalf of progressive causes did a tiny bit of good. But now I'm interested in quite a bit more than a tiny bit of good. I want to feel like I'm raising my kid in a country that's worthy of her. I just don't know what to do to make that a reality, and each new revelation of crime and catastrophe only makes me feel more helpless.

My experience of parenthood so far tells me there has to be more to life than this: never, ever learning from our history, sitting back and allowing poverty and war and injustice to spiral on endlessly. Life can't just be one big nihilistic excuse for a few people to get rich off of a lot of other people's suffering and bloodshed. It ought to be about being open to possibility, embracing our connections to other people, and being grateful for those connections.

And, of course, smearing bananas in your hair, throwing chewed-up wads of hot dog on the floor, and running around the kitchen with a dish towel on your head, giggling.

What to wear, what not to wear

Felicity Huffman: fabulous. Charlize Theron: disastrous.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Friday lit. blogging: e.e. cummings

Two poems from the great e.e:

since feeling is first
who pays any attention to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;
wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world
my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
--the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says
we are for each other: then
laugh leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph
And death i think is no parenthesis

it may not always be so; and i say
that if your lips, which i have loved, should touch
another's, and your dear strong fingers clutch
his heart, as mine in time not far away;
if on another's face your sweet hair lay
in such silence as i know, or such
great writhing words as, uttering overmuch,
stand helplessly before the spirit at bay;

if this should be, i say if this should be--
you of my heart, send me a little word;
that i may go unto him, and take his hands,
saying, Accept all happiness from me.
Then shall i turn my face and hear one bird
sing terribly afar in the lost lands