Sunday, November 30, 2008

I'm Thankful She Eventually Got Over It...

As my mother is fond of saying each year after a holiday, "Another Thanksgiving shot to hell", which translates to "well, thank God that's over!" I personally love all holidays and have never shared this sentiment, but it has become such a tradition to say it that I felt the need to do the honors.

We had a nice Thanksgiving weekend back at the homefront. Corinne is so totally into the holidays this year. It started with Halloween and looking for decorated houses. As soon as it was over she wanted to know when the next one is, and even though Thanksgiving doesn't really hold a whole lot of appeal for a girl who doesn't really care about eating, she was excited to go to Mimmie's and Papa's (she thinks they live together, which is a subject that deserves its own post someday). She was also very excited about turkeys, having made a number of them in school over the past week or two. I'm not sure if she really gets the connection between the bird and the main course, but if she does it doesn't seem to bother her that we eat the funny little guy that she made a paper bag representation of.

Anyway, our Thanksgiving weekend was full of our usual traditions. Debbie, who I have known since I was 5 and my best friend growing up, came over for "Good Old Fashioned Family Game Playing Fun Night", a tradition that we started last year that involves a bunch of us drinking too much wine and beer and then attempting to play games that are far too complicated for drunk people, while reminiscing about Robinhood Court.

On Black Friday my mother, Erin, Corinne and I went shopping. We don't do the crazy 5 am thing, and it's usually not too crazy, plus there are some great sales. We had Corinne pick out her own gifts this year, since she has gotten so particular about what she will wear or even play with. It was a nice chick-day (Pete and Papa went to a bar and had a nice dude-day).

On Saturday we always go to the same craft fair. It's a big one with tons of people, and my fantasy to actually participate as a vendor one of these years. It's something like $100 to have a table, though, and you need a NY tax license.

I think the most memorable part of this particular Thanksgiving, though, happened on Wednesday night as we were driving to NY. We left around 8 pm because traffic is just ridiculous from about noon on. As is was we got stuck in ten miles of bumper to bumper just outside of Worcester. Pete was driving, despite the fact that he had only gotten 4 hours of sleep the night before and has been known to fall asleep while reading Corinne a bedtime story. For the record, I offered repeatedly to drive, having taken a nap and drank coffee in preparation. But he insisted that he gets bored as a passenger and usually can't sleep. Corinne was just starting to nod off, which was a score because usually she won't sleep in the car, and I was zoning out when I noticed that we did not seem to be slowing down despite the fact that the car in front of us was stopped. At the last minute I finally realized that Pete, too, had nodded off and I exclaimed something to the effect of "What the hell are you doing!?!" Too late. We bumped the car in front of us, who in turn bumped into the car in front of him. Fortunately we were only going 5 -10 mph and there was no damage or even insurance info exchanged. Corinne, however, was somewhat traumatized. I think my yell scared her and it did make a pretty noticeable thud noise. She cried for about 15 minutes and then for the next hour or so she kept asking questions to the effect of "Why Dadda crash the car?". I think she thought he did it on purpose, because she told him that crashing the car was "not good manners" and that she didn't want to go to sleep because "Dadda might crash the car again". Every time she seemed to be over it, after a few minutes of silence she'd suddenly say "I don't want Dadda crash the car again. Why Dadda crash the car?" It was kind of funny. For me anyway. Maybe not so much for Pete, who I'm sure felt extra guilty. I did have to say just one "I told you so", and needless to say I drove from there. I was a little bit worried that Corinne would never want to get into a car again, but she seems to have gotten over it. That in itself is something to be thankful for.

Turkey float, 2007 parade

Same shot, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I Got In Trouble

Just as an addendum to my prior post, Kick Me. I got in trouble with Pete for not sharing my concerns with him. He didn't necessarily find out about it by reading the blog, but I did wait a day before telling him, and I didn't really tell him. It kind of came out when he asked about my OB appointment. I tried to explain that I didn't want to worry him unnecessarily, that I saw no benefit in both of us losing sleep over something that would most likely turn out to be fine. Things always seem so much worse at night. And he's an insomniac as it is. Also, there's something about sharing a fear with someone else that makes it all the more real. I chose to take a wait and see approach. He felt that it was not my right to withhold concerns about our baby.

Just thought I'd mention it. Feel free to weigh in with your opinions.

Monday, November 24, 2008

One down...

The grooming shop murals are done, at least until after the holidays, when she may have me do a few more smaller ones. And Apple's mural is nearing completion. All the background and hard stuff is done. Now I just need to put in all the bugs and fun stuff. I see the light at the end of the tunnel...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Kick Me

OK, I think all moms, at least those who have given birth within their recent memory, will be able to relate to this one.

I love and hate the phenomenon of a baby kicking inside of me. I love it for obvious reasons. It is a strange and amazing thing. It starts as a little flutter, like a goldfish bumping into the sides of its little fish bowl. At first you think you imagined it, or that it was gas or a muscle spasm. But soon enough it becomes an unmistakable and undeniable kicking sensation, until it reaches the point, in your last couple months, where you fear that the baby will kick its way out of your already-stretched taut belly like some sort of alien. Not to mention the kicking at your bladder and other already-compressed organs. It becomes your constant companion and your pleasant little secret (like when your boss is talking to you but you're not paying any attention because all you are thinking is "aw, my baby is kicking right now"). It is, for me anyway, the first real tangible and concrete evidence that you have a living thing inside of you. That is why pregnant women are always rubbing their bellies; because they are already practicing acknowledging their baby's need for attention. After Corinne was born I missed that kicking a lot. I felt kind of empty inside. And all that kicking, many times a day for long stretches of time, now translated to crying. Many times a day. For long stretches of time.

I hate the kicking of a baby inside of me because it becomes an obsession. Around 24 weeks, which is where am now, you are supposed to do something called kick counting, where you set aside time each day to count the number of kicks in an hour. This is supposed to indicate that your baby is thriving in there. When the baby is kicking up a storm you breath a sigh of relief that all is well. But inevitably there will come a period of time where you don't feel any kicking for awhile. Maybe you were just busy and didn't notice one way or another. But then you becomes conscious of the fact that you haven't felt anything all day and you become fixated on feeling something, anything, to assure yourself that your baby has not died on you.

One of my favorite episodes of ER, in a morbid fascination, train wreck kind of way, is the episode where Doctor Carter's girlfriend loses her baby in her seventh month. She doesn't feel kicking for a day or so and goes to her OB, who does an ultrasound and determines that there is no heart beat. The terrible part is that she has to then deliver this stillborn baby. I was always horrified at the prospect of having to go through all the pain and hours of labor to deliver a baby that you know is dead. The whole while she hears the cries of other healthy babies being born. I cry each and every time I see this particular episode, which incidentally I just saw for like the fourth time about two weeks ago. Watching it while pregnant? Not such a good idea.

This brings me to this week, where, as I'm sure you can guess, I had "the scare". On Tuesday night I realized that I hadn't really felt much all day. I had been mural painting and had been on my feet and preoccupied all day, so I couldn't say for sure if I just wasn't paying attention. That night I felt a couple of kicks, which was enough to reassure me. Wednesday was pretty much the same deal. By Wednesday night, in those wee hours of the morning when I can't fall back to sleep after my late night pee, I lay in bed for hours waiting to feel some kicking. Usually if I lay on my side a certain way this seems to make Apple mad and she kicks like crazy. Not so on Wednesday night. I tried every position, I tried getting up, I tried bending over, I tried shaking my belly around. Nothing. In the saner hours of daylight I wouldn't have been as concerned, but in those late-night hours, when one is alone with one's fears, I became convinced that she was dead. I envisioned having to go through labor to deliver a dead baby and what would we do after? Who would tell our family and our friends? Would we bury her? Would I repaint the nursery or just lock the door and never go in there again? Would we ever try again, me being 37 and all, or would we say "game over"? What would we tell Corinne, who is just starting to accept the notion of a baby sister? It was awful. I vowed that I would call my OB as soon as the office opened (even though I had an appointment already scheduled for the day after). At around 4 AM I felt some faint kicks, but nothing like the hardy little wallops she had been giving me the past few weeks. Then I decided that she was not dead yet, but that my water had broken just a little bit, enough that it was trickling out very slowly and she was slowly suffocating or starving or whatever a baby would do without its "bag of waters", as it is called. This happened to one of the moms in Corinne's EI group, and she delivered her baby at 26 weeks (the baby seems to be OK, but only time will tell, developmentally speaking). So then I fretted about what I would do in this situation. I would have to drive to Boston every day for months to spend time with my baby in a Neonatal Intensive Care unit. I wouldn't be able to touch her or hold her and the chances of her having a bunch of health issues and developmental delays would be very high, if she even survived. And what about poor Corinne and her needs? Or what if we caught the problem early enough and the doctor just prescribed bed rest. What would I do with Corinne and school? And the holidays? And all my unfinished painting projects?

Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep. By 9:00, when my OB office opened, I was in a state. It didn't help that three different moms asked me how I was feeling when I dropped Corinne off at school. I just smiled and said fine and dandy, while in my head I was thinking that my unborn baby was dying and I had waited one day too many to tell my doctor and that would make all the difference in the outcome. It didn't help that when I called the office and spoke to the nurse, she instructed me to go to the hospital's labor and delivery to be put on a monitor, not "oh it's nothing to worry about, just wait until your appointment tomorrow". She called back a few minutes later to tell me to eat breakfast (I hadn't, in case they had to do an emergency C- section) and drink water and count kicks for an hour before coming to the regular office, because L&D was very backed up and I would have to wait for hours. This was a little more reassuring. I did as instructed, and to make an already long story a little shorter, the doctor listened to the heart and it was normal, which indicates that everything is probably just fine. He wants me to come in for an ultrasound next week, just to check her growth, but he wasn't concerned, especially this early on. He was very nice and reassuring, but I feel like a hysterical mother, which I normally am not, nonetheless. Like they were all saying after I left, "Ugh, there goes another one, pregnancy hormones all raging. How many more times will we be seeing her with false alarms? Wait until she starts having Braxton-Hicks contractions!" But at least I will sleep better tonight, and for the time being I know we're A-OK. And of course, as I type this, I feel little Apple kicking away. Still not quite as heartily as before, but the doctor thinks she has most likely just changed positions so I don't feel it quite as pronounced. I just wish I could go and get the heart rate checked every day, and maybe an ultrasound every other day. I remember this with Corinne, too. The count down to when she could safely be born prematurely. If I can just keep her in there and keep her alive until, say, 35 weeks or so... Then my worries will be over. Except that then, when they're born, you wish that they could just stay inside of you forever so that you always know where they are and that they're nice and protected.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Two Firsts

This week Corinne had two firsts: her first "real" haircut and her first trip to the dentist.

Let me preface this by saying that these are two events that are notoriously troublesome for autistic kids. Kids on the spectrum do not like having their heads touched and they do not like strangers to get all "up in their grill". For example, Corinne does not like to wear hats and she still cries and carries on whenever we wash her hair. It has only been the past 6 months or so that she will tolerate going to the pediatrician, and that is only because it has been awhile since she had any shots, and there is always the promise of candy. There was a time in her life when I thought for sure that going to the dentist was probably just never going to happen, at least without some serious sedation, and that she would be doomed to a lifetime of momma's bang trimming nightmares. Once again, though, she proved us wrong.

First was the haircut. She had had a trim once before from Auntie E's friend Melissa, who is a hairdresser. But that was in the familiar surroundings of Mimmie's house and she knew Melissa. Other than that it's been momma's home cuts (and it showed!), but her hair had gotten to a point where I couldn't tell what was bags and what was supposed to be long and it was all in her eyes. So this time we went to a new place in town that just does kids cuts. We were the only ones there and she got to watch a dvd. I wouldn't say she loved the experience, but overall it was a success. The place scored big points off the bat for having a fish print smock. She did pretty well, albeit a little tense, up until they did her bangs. I watched her face start to scrunch up in pre-cry mode. She tried so hard to keep it together, which is a big improvement for her (a year ago she would have gone directly to pitch-a-fit mode). I think she got some hair in her eyes, because she said it hurt her eyes. She recovered quickly and seemed very relieved when it was all done (and of course I gave her candy, too).

High on that successful mission, I decided to schedule her for her first teeth cleaning. They just learned about dentists in school as part of their "community helpers" unit, so the timing couldn't be better. The hygienist recommended that I not tell her too much about it ahead of time, which goes contrary to our usual approach of discussing new things until we're blue in the face, sometimes even practicing and playing pretend as well. I trusted the advice and once again Corinne did great. She actually seemed to really like it. The hygienist was great and let Corinne go at her own pace. She got to go up and down in the chair and feel the tools on her fingers first. They counted her teeth (five, according to Corinne) and she learned how to spit. She thought the little sink was funny, as was the "bib like dadda wore for Halloween" (he wore a plastic lobster bib to go with her costume). She liked that there was a picture of hot air balloons on the ceiling light, and that she got a "present bag just like momma's" (I was at the dentist a few days earlier) with "spit out" toothpaste and a new toothbrush. She even tolerated the spinny, noisy brush thing, which I thought would freak her out. She says she wants to go back again, and we play going to the dentist at home now.

So there you have it, two more hurdles crossed, two more mountains climbed, two more notches in our belt. Next up: dealing with a new baby in the house.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Like the way I snuck those last four posts in there, back-dated so they'd look like they'd been there all along? Yeah, I know, I've been a bit remiss in posting as of late. This is exactly why I was reluctant to start a blog in the first place. It becomes just another thing weighing heavy on your mind, another item on the to-do list. The truth is I've been really busy. Between Halloween stuff and volunteer stuff and just stuff. Also, the "Bouncing Off the Walls" business has been picking up, as it usually does right before Christmas. I've had two craft fairs and another one coming up this weekend. I have a mural pending for a grooming shop, a commissioned chair to paint, two growth charts on deck with the promise of a couple more on the back burner. Part of me is hoping that I don't pick up any new business at this weekend's fair. Don't get me wrong, I love that I'm making some money and I love painting and I won't turn away "bidness". I'm not complaining. I'm just kind of bugging out. Why can't the baby be due in, say May or June? Then I'd be ready. The old nesting instinct is back, stronger than before, and I need things to be done. I need to put some checks on my to-do list. By my calculations I only have November to do the mural for Apple's room because December is crazy with Christmas decorating and shopping and cookie baking and cooking and preparing for a houseful of people. And then it's January and God help me, that's the month before the baby is due (C-section is scheduled for February 23rd, by the way). And watch, this time the baby will come early and I'll end up with a natural birth anyway. And of course there's always the fear that I'll end up on bed rest any day now for some reason and nothing will get done. So I really want to get the mural done, but whenever I work on it I feel like I should be working on the paid projects and it all makes me just want to take a nap. Or eat Halloween candy. On the bright side, I have at least started the baby's room, and so far I'm really pleased with how it looks. This one will be a garden scene, with frog pond and lots of bugs and cutesy-cute and much girlier than Corinne's room. It's part of my sociological experiment called "how much can you shape a kid's personality by surrounding it with a particular genre?" Corinne has a fish room and is obsessed with fish. Will the new baby be a girlie-girl if I give her a girlie room? Will she actually like dolls (which Corinne despises) and doll houses and princesses? Maybe I should paint her room in a "surgeon" theme or a "trial lawyer" theme. But I digress. This post is really just my way of saying I'm still here, I haven't forgotten about my blog or my loyal readers (all 3 of you). Now, I need to stop procrastinating and get back to work!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Gymnastics Party

Today Corinne went to her first classmate birthday party, which was held at a gymnastics place. We weren't sure how this was going to fly for her, especially when it became clear that the parents were supposed to watch from a separate room. Once again we were pleasantly surprised. Corinne followed her classmates into the gym and they started off with the parachute. This has traditionally been one of Corinne's bigger phobias, between the texture and the billowing. But she stood back and watched at first, then held on to it and shook it like everyone else. When everyone went underneath it she hesitated, but then someone took her hand and pulled her in. Pete and I watched, holding our breath. She emerged with everyone else a few minutes later smiling and clearly had enjoyed the experience.

She had trouble keeping up the pace of the obstacle course-like things (at any given time the whole class was backed up behind her), but she did her best to follow what "her new teachers" demonstrated, and she watched her peers as well, which was even more important. She was cautious, as always, but allowed the instructors to help her do somersaults and even rolled around on her own. She jumped on the trampoline, hung from the rings, walked on the balance beam and even got into "the pit", a hole filled with foam blocks. She seemed to have fun (in her squinky, marches to the beat of her own drum, Corinne kind of way) and when asked, said she would like to come back to do it again. She'll never be Mary Lou Rhetton (too much of her mother's uncoordination for that), but to see her joining in with her peers and having fun, even in a new and overstimulating environment... Well, that's something we weren't sure she'd ever be able to do. Another monumental day.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Festivities, Galore

We've been very busy with all things Halloween. I've always been a big fan of the holiday, but it's even more exciting when you have a kid. And Corinne is even more into it than I am. The mere mention of decorating or ghosts or skeletons gets such an enthusiastic response, you're worried she might pee herself (which isn't really a problem, because she still won't use the potty, but that's a subject for another post). And that's not even mentioning the candy, which has an instant euphoric effect on her, causing her to run around in circles like a complete spazz. It's amazing to me how she still can't identify her letters of the alphabet, but she knows all the names of her favorite candies and can recognize them by their packaging.

So Corinne wanted to be a lobster this year, and, big surprise, I couldn't find a costume in the stores so I made her one based on a craft show I saw years ago. It consisted of red sweat pants and shirt, plastic plates and a lot of red duct tape. It came out pretty good, if I do say so myself, and she got a lot of attention everywhere she went.
First, on Thursday there was the Monster March at school, where all the preschoolers paraded around the court yard for the moms and dads.
Then, that afternoon was the downtown trick-or-treating and Halloween party, which is quite a spectacle. Hundreds of kids turn out and go from store to store. Last year the candy was lame (like starlite mints and hard candies, the kind of stuff restaurants give out at the end of a meal), but this year was much better for chocolate. As the MFA's official Craft Coordinator, I was in charge of the craft for the party. We made jack-o-lanterns out of paper plates. Not very inspired, but you try to come up with a craft for hundreds of kids with a budget of $20 or so. It was windy, too, so all my pumpkin face parts kept blowing away. Corinne was very excited about the party, but wanted to know who's birthday it was and why there was no cake.

Then Friday night was real trick-or-treating night. Not as many kids around this year, so everyone was giving out candy by the handful. Not good for the pregnant lady to have all this chocolate hanging around. Corinne really likes trick-or-treating except for the houses with spooky music playing. We had to skip those.
So all in all it was a great Halloween. Corinne has already told us that she's "so excited for Thanksgiving", even though she doesn't really know what it is. Wait 'til Christmas rolls around...