Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hey Jealousy

Jealousy has eluded me more often than not. In general, I am too spacey and consumed within my own life to worry about who has it better. Of course, there is longing -- for poreless skin, wash and go hair, a larger apartment, better career. But these yearnings are all theoretical, rarely centered on any one person who possesses what I would like to have.

My husband once called me jealous, in relation to other women in his potential orbit. I stand by my response that this is summarily untrue. I think I am a pretty hot dish, and frankly, don't worry much about other women stealing him away. I just have zero tolerance for female friends, flirty banter, etc. because of all the things that could be misrepresented, misconstrued -- the general slippery slope shit. I am unbearably sanctimonious on this topic, so let's stop here.

Jealousy has reared its head round these parts -- I watch Chloe as she festers in it without understanding what has overtaken her, wearing it like a belt that's too tight. It is a floating discontent, where she is visibly unsettled even when she does not realize that there is a baby in the house. She clings to my skirts, throws food on the floor, whines without reprieve. She is not jealous of the baby per se, but of a life she once had where she was the center -- when mommy was not so irritable, tired or feeding a mewing bundle from the very heart of her.

And lo and behold, I am uniquely jealous -- not of childless women who do not know of these tugs, but of mothers of one, or mothers of two or more who are past this phase. Basically, anyone who is not struggling to recreate normalcy. I am jealous of harmony, the lilting music of a family dancing to a familar beat, the mindless routines of who-does-what.

I am even jealous of pregnant women, my friend who was due a few days shy of my due date and was still blooming with anticipation. My waistline has thinned and my legs have taken on their unique post-partum knobiness that will flesh out in the upcoming months, yet I longed for her girth, for more time to prepare for this seismic shift. All the while knowing -- there would never be enough time to ready myself for these growing pains.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Twitching Hour

When my daughter Chloe was born, I was warned of the "witching hour", around 6 or 7 PM when I could expect her to cry like a lunatic. Well, it never happened. She would chill out placidly amongst her fish in the fantastic Fisher Price Acquarium Bouncy Seat, or chomp at one of my boobs as I ate dinner (eat and be eaten, I suppose). No screaming.

If anything, this new baby is even more relaxed. I hear that this is common for babies born on the early side, as he behaves as if he has swallowed a few Prozac, or taken a huge bong hit. I have barely heard him cry, not even at the supposed witching hour, which is actually the only time he is somewhat alert, staring into space, safely tucked far enough away from his sister's sinister fork that can be tossed with a vengeance at a moments notice.

I, on the other hand, have a Twitching Hour. It sneaks upon me at around 7:00PM and really gets going at around 8 or 9. I start to twitch in panic, that this is just too hard. It generally comes after Chloe has hurled herself in anger against my incision, fists of furt flailing as her brother tries to nurse. Then there are just the after effects of a long humid day with overfull breasts, a sore abdomen, too much time spent indoors, inability to nap and anticipation of a somewhat sleepless night ahead. And then, there is my ever present dread of change, guessing and second guessing myself, wondering if Chloe has been traumatized beyond repair. Add a sprinkling of concern that this baby sleeps too much, a dash of worry that my milk supply is dwindling and a heaping spoonful of "what the hell will happen when I am finally alone with these two" and you have a recipe for some serious twitching.

My husband A offers up a "too late to turn back now", and sometimes even offers up some lovely soothing words. But in general, he seems totally unaffected by this life overhaul. He expected as much and is just thrilled that I am not the psycho that I was the first time around. And in many ways, so am I. Whereas last time I lay in bed, choking back tears for hours and days, sure that I have made a huge mistake, this time I have willed myself to smother my anxiety for most of the day, releasing it slowly only when I am to tired to supress it.

And unlike last time, this time when I greet the morning I am actually twitch free. In the unapologetic light of day, I am thrilled by my choices and their outcomes, and pretty sure that I can do this -- confidence filled, armpits shaved, ready to try again.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Live to Tell - Part Two

When you have a normal vaginal delivery, they swaddle your squawking bundle and lay him on your chest. "Hi Mommy!" they say, or something equally ridiculous that would make you cringe any other time. There is talk of bathing and breastfeeding and daddy can or can not cut the cord depending on how brave he is. I remember looking down at Chloe, who showed no visible signs of trouble, and thinking: the worst is over.

When you have a C-section under my circumstances, there are no surprises. "The baby will be taken away soon after we take him out", the nurse said. "But don't worry. He will be checked and then he will go to a special nursery."

"The NICU?" I asked. I knew of the NICU from bloggers with preemies and friends with twins. "Oh no," assured the nurse. "Just a little step-down nursery before he goes to the general nursery. It's called the CCN".

When I lie awake at night, I tend to unpack the moments of the day that I did not understand but did not have time to comprehend. Words I had not heard of, equations that were over my head. When they wheeled me into recovery I chanted "CCN" in my head until it became clear that it was not a cable channel filled with gray haired news anchors, but the Critical Care Nursery. Critical. I tried to erase the words from my brain.

As they moved me from one gurney to the next, I was reminded of obese homebound people who needed to be turned by an army of ten. "You'll feel like you will fall, but we won't let you fall", a nurse said, as I was shifted from one bed to the next. It felt like the moment you are falling asleep, when you swear that the ground has been pulled from under you. And you jerk your body in defense, calmed and embarassed once you find that you were safe all along. Safe. I craved that feeling, and it was still eluding me.

My recovery nurse was a strawberry blonde whose hair reminded me of my friend Leigh. I concentrated on things like this, familiar things, to center and calm me. The nurse seemed too lithe and young to manage the heavy load of my body and heart. She moved my legs, deadened by anesthetic. I watched my knees and feet move by, and had a grave understanding of what paralysis must feel like. "As soon as you can move your feet you can go to a room," she said, hoping to motivate me out of the makeshift recovery area that looked frighteningly like a morgue. I tried to will my toes to twitch to no avail.

The buff resident had reappeared, and was instructing the nurse on this and that, clearly pleased to have some underling to delegate to. "Dude, you freaked out in there," he said. I tried smiled at his cavalier attitude. It was the first normal thing anyone had said to me in hours, something that would have been said after a horror movie or ferris wheel ride. I listened intently as he told the nurse what medications I could and could not have -- I did not trust anyone not to make a mistake.

"What do I do with the placenta?" another nurse was asking. She was carrying a bucket that looked like it should hold paint or cement.

"We are sending it to pathology", the resident answered. His eyes met mine which must have been widened in fright. Pathology meant cancer and all things bad. "It looked healthy," he reassured. "We are just making sure." I would ask for my placenta results in the days that followed and would never hear anything in return. It would be the first of many times that I forced myself to acquire a new philosophy of "no news is good news".

I sent A away to take Chloe to her two year pediatrician appointment. Amazingly, life had to go on. I had checked in to the hospital at 4:00 AM and had died a thousand deaths and become a mom of two over the hours between then and 11:00, which was the time of Chloe's appointment. He left reluctantly and I remained in a half sleep state until my legs miraculously regained life.

I was taken to the room where I would remain for four long days. I asked to see the baby. "You are on bed rest", the nurse explained, "for 12 hours. The baby can not leave CCN for a few days. You can see him as soon as you are released from bed rest." It was shocking. We were separated by mere feet and yet unable to see one another. "I need to pump," I said, referencing my breastmilk that would appear in the form of colostrum, otherwise known as "liquid gold". I did not want him to be without it, though I did give the ok for formula to tide him over. Miraculously, I hunched my exhausted body over a breast pump for as long as I could, producing an surprisingly large amount of colostrum. Later in the CCN, a nurse would tell me that she had never seen a C section mommy produce so much so soon. "You are amazing," she would whisper in my ear. Her words would warm me like sunshine.

My mother would arrive, followed my my doctor brother and his doctor girlfriend. I would retell the story as many times as I could, trying to desensitize myself to the details. My friend Elise appeared, arms filled with ice cream which was regretfully not allowed on my clear liquid diet. She came just as I was finally allowed into the CCN to try and nurse. "I won't be back for a while," I said. "I will wait," she answered, in her trademark cheshire grin. Everyone in this lifetime should have one friend who comes even when you tell them not to, brings ice cream, and waits for you to return. I was able to hold the baby up to the window for a moment before the shades were drawn. CCN babies remain behind covered glass with rare exception, despite the fact that, as my mother noted, those are the babies that people need to see most, to be reassured that they are okay.

The baby was smaller than Chloe, with long legs that held slackened skin. Where Chloe had been robust and plump, he was pale, a bit wan looking, with longer limbs which promised that he would likely outpace his already tall sister. Unlike Chloe, who had emerged from my body somewhat bruised and battered, this baby's head was a perfect round orb, his skin unblemished, his eyes a deep blue. His nose was smaller and more sculpted. He looked like a china doll, minus the plump and rosy cheeks. He was covered in wires, that I learned were called "leads", monitoring vital signs. He also received an IV of antibiotics, just like the one that I dragged along side of me. He could only be unhooked for the hour that I tried to feed him, and then he was returned to a warmer (CCN babies can't be swaddled because of all of the wires). You would think that I would have been heartbroken to return him, but truth be told, I was freaking exhausted. I was thrilled that someone more lucid and qualified than I was would be in charge for a few days.

As I write this, I am remembering that as I nursed him in my wheelchair, I had a catheter in. It is amazing how easily my memory dismissed a bag of urine that I dragged along with me for days, shrouded by my recall of the smallest details of my baby's skin.

In the days that would follow, it was hurry up and wait. Hurry up to get out of bed, get walking and wait around to fart (of all things) which would release me (pun intended) from my clear diet. Wait, wait for the baby's blood to grow a culture to rule out infection. Unlike me, he stayed stable. I would spike a fever for days thereafter around 7 PM that would abate quickly but left me drenched in sweat. It terrified me to think that something sinister remained lurking in my body, threatening to wreak havoc and put an end to my slow but consistent recovery.

While I had longed for a private room and actually tried to get one after my fever left me somewhat delirious, I actually lucked out with my roommate. She was a Muslim woman from Morocco in her forties, who had just birthed her fifth son, first C-Section. She was gently maternal and totally non intrusive, soothing me from behind our curtained partition. She handed me a farenheit thermometer when no one could tell me how to convert my celsius fever reading, and she demonstrated a better nursing position by thrusting her huge brown breasts in front of me. Her sons were lovely and all walked in a straight line to see her, muted without the usual scrapings and screamings of brotherhood. Ultimately, while I recoiled from the activity in the room from her family and cursed the lights she left on at night, I was grateful for the kind company. She talked about me to my mother, telling her that I am quick to upset but I let it go quickly. A pretty astute assessment from someone who regarded me me mainly from behind a hanging cloth.

By my third day in the hospital, I was itching to leave. While I enjoyed the care and the relaxation, something happens to the psyche when you spend your days in a gown that opens in the back. You start to take on the persona of the ill and infirm, when walks are relegated to the toilet and you are listlessly dragging an IV of fluids behind you. I changed into regular PJs and deep conditioned my hair yet I still felt crippled and I desperately missed home, and Chloe (who, by the way, thrived in my absence but thats a whole 'nother story). By this point, the baby had been released from CCN and was allowed in my room for night feedings and spent days in the general nursery. He received all that could be given with regards to a clean bill of health. I, on the other hand, had an OB who left my room crossing his fat fingers in a sign for, "still hoping for the best." Thankfully, my fevers disappered, my incision was healing and slowly I let myself dream of good old messy life outside the sterile world of my hospital room.

Before I left, we had to fill out the birth certificate. We were still on the fence about a name, and a pretty blonde nurse asked me what I was thinking. I told her, and watched her face my son, all young and tall with perky boobs, tiny ass and low slung scrubs. "Hi Dylan!" she cooed, and I imagined him hulking and strong, flirting with the blondes, years away from this vulnerable scary start. Instantly I loved the name, sounding bold and sultry coming from her mouth. I penned it in to the certificate, a lasting proof that he was here, to stay, without the fear of what such an arrogantly permanent move might mean.

As I exited the hospital, the warm sun on my pale skin, redemption was immediate. I felt so good to be walking away, with my son and my uterus in tact, with a story that while huge to me is actually quite small in terms of what could have been, what others have endured. I am home now, and my back aches from changing diapers, My breasts are on fire, and I am long overdue a shampoo. Yet somehow, despite mind blowing fatigue and the heavy chains of change, I have never felt so free, so alive, so goddamned lucky.

Thanks for listening.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

We interrupt Live To Tell

..to bring you a word from my recent sponsors:

1. "Hospital-Style" maxi pads, now available at Duane Reade. All of the fun, without wings and sticky pad. Sexy!
2. Showers. Mmm, sweet nectar of the gods, otherwise known as hot pulsing waters, and sweet sweet soap, cleansing away goop from hospital bandages, breastmilk and other leaky unmentionables.
3. Bris leftovers. Not that I am ever in the mood for a pound of lox, but it sure keeps the visiting family full and happy!
4. Toddlers and TV. When all else fails, thank god for Kids On Demand.
5. Husbands who say "Can I get you anything?" in the middle of the night, even though they really mean, "Please don't ask me to move a muscle".
6. The power of positive thinking: So far, so good...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Live to Tell - Part One

"I'll see you in an hour!" my sister scoffed, as she climbed into my bed at 3:00 AM. It would be so "me" to decide I was in labor just because that afternoon my doctor had said I was two centimeters dilated and my parents were about to go to Florida. I was about three weeks from my due date, and I had been two centimeters for at least two weeks with Chloe. But my pelvis hurt, a deep unrelenting pain.

"Does not sound like labor", said my OB. "But come in anyway."

I maniacally began packing things like makeup and tanktops and stuff that I had promised myself would help me look cuter in photos than last time. And then I started shaking. And crying. "I can't leave Chloe!" I choked. My husband (A) soothed me. "She'll be fine," he said. It was the start of what I know will be a long road of feeling like I am abandoning her, choosing her brother first because he is more needy.

My teeth chattered. We went outside to hail a taxi. "Why is it so cold?" I asked. I was shivering in convulsions. It was 85 degrees.

Once we reached the hospital the shaking worsened. The labor and delivery ward was darkened and felt empty. I quivered in front of the nurse. "I think I am in labor," I huffed between breaths. She was unmoved. She lead us into a room and made me remove my clothes and don a robe, a particularly cruel request considering my state. I was hooked to monitors and A sat across from me, poised with his best "pretending I am ok" face. The machine beside me rang an alarm. I knew this noise, I had been in this room a few weeks ago when A made me come in because we thought my water had broken. "Paper Jam", the nurse had said, scribbling as much on the paper that curled from the mouth of the machine, in order to explain away the gaps in record. But this time, no one cared. The machine bleated, and I started to heave. "Need to throw up I said," as A grabbed a bucket. Orange gatorade flew from my mouth, my face scarlet in embarassment as I instructed A to hold my hair. I missed my friend Denise, the best hair holder in times of puke. I could tell A was afraid to tug too hard.

Vomiting provided minor relief. A tired and young looking blonde woman who called herself a doctor came in. She was a resident, the only one available. "I am going to examine you now," she said. She placed a gloved hand so far inside of me I thought I was going to faint. "Still 2-3 centimeters" she said as she snapped the gloves off. "What?!" It could not be. This felt like 10 centimeters. "And the monitor has no record of any contactions" she said wearily. "You are in very early labor". But how could this be? I was clearly not in any labor at all, still the same diagnostically as I had been earlier that day, before I went shoe shopping and ate fish sticks. Oh, how I regretted those fish sticks.

"I am telling you, something is wrong", I said. She looked unconcerned. "You can go home," she said. "Or you can stay. Something clearly brought you in here. But you could deliver in a matter of days or longer". And then she left. The vomiting continued, in between episodes I screamed, "I am going to die here." A stroked my arm, and it felt like pure acid burning my skin. I wet myself, and was hoping it was a surer sign of labor that my water had broken. A searched for the resident to be sure, but no one was to be found. In desperation, he called my doctor. He left a scathing message. When the resident appeared, she said my water had not broken. She put me on the phone with my doctor and I cried to him. "I am lying here in my own waste! My husband is cleaning my vomit because no one is bringing us new buckets. And I swear, there is something wrong!"

"The resident says you are fine", he said. "You are just as you were a few hours ago. There are no contractions. You are fine." He sounded confused but not at all alarmed. And he hung up.

If there is a moment in this story that saved my life, and my son's life, it is right now: I spiked a fever. Over 102 degrees. At this same time, Abs' gaze on the monitor turned to obvious concern. The resident assured me that she would tell my doctor about my fever. Suddenly, my OB appeared, which surprised me considering the fact that I knew he was home when we spoke. He looked at the screen, at the paper. I started mumbling about paper jams. "Is everything okay?" I asked. "No," he answered. "Why didn't you tell me about the fever and vomiting?" The fever just happened. Didn't I tell him about the vomiting? Time was no longer reliable, nor was a determination of which words were mine aloud and which had been screamed in my head.

The doctor looked ashen. And suddenly, everything moved at warp speed after langushing for hours. The wheeled me into a birthing room, where I mainly remember that after flushing the toilet, it splashed back in my face. I hoped it was a final insult. I lay in wait, and the doctor regarded me in a serious tone. "We need to take the baby out now, via C-Section. His heart rate is very fast (this is what A had seen on the monitor) and he is not responding well to whatever infection you may or may not have." Suddenly I had images of my literal bun in the oven, heating up. I imagined brain cells being fried. "We don't know what is causing your fever", he said, "but we need to take ever precaution." I started crying again. They began an IV of antibiotics, and the baby would receive one for days afterwards if all went well. IF.

"Will the baby be okay?" I asked for what felt like the 100th time. My OB would not answer. A was soothing me, telling me it would be okay. I am not sure if he said these words, but I felt them radiating from him. I called my brother, a doctor. "This is not out of the ordinary," he scoffed. I would later find out that he was worried, and have now mentally stored the fact that he is a damn good liar.

A resident accompanied my doctor to take me into the operating room. He looked about 21, with muscles protruding from his short sleeved scrubs and a rhinopastied nose. He was the first kind face I saw from the hospital staff. Nevertheless, I bullied him into giving me some assurance. "How rare is this?," I demanded. "Is there a page in your book that covers this?" I asked condecendingly. "It's not uncommon," he said, his voice a kind lilt. "Your baby will be fine." This resident had just started two weeks ago and clearly was unafraid of malpractice. Still, I clung to those words, as someone handed A some navy scrubs. I watched as he struggled to get the booties over his shoes. "No time," the nurse said. "Just come with us". A ran along side the gurney, and I stared at him, incredulous over how handsome I found him in this moment, skull cap and all. "You look so cute," I mumbled. They asked him to wait outside while they prepped me. This may have been when A finally let himself cry.

Through the doors, it looked like Grey's Anatomy amidst a really serious case. I am sure I remarked as much out loud. I still felt the need to be funny, to please. 15 (or 50) people scurried about, ripping open plastic bags of tools. I was suddenly keenly aware of being half naked. An anethesiologist who was the spitting image of the shrink on Law and Order SVU greeted me gently. He explained the spinal injection and all of the scary things I had already signed consent to. A nurse held me, my head in her cleavage. "Arch like a cat!" she ordered, and it is only now that I can envision a hissing cartoon cat that she was trying to conjure. A leadened stream coursed through me, and my feet became electric. They lay me down and suddenly my chest felt heavy. A heavy man was sitting on my chest, I was convinced. My arms were spread out like Jesus on the cross. "I am dying!" I screamed, for not the first time today. And again, my pleadings. "Guys, something isn't right." "It's normal", everyone chanted. I did not believe them, because I had watched TLC's A BABY STORY and the women always lay placidly behind the cloth curtain. Various doctors whispered in my ear, things about lungs and chest and heart. Someone must have put some sort of relaxant in my IV because the panic abated and I felt pretty damn swell. "Where's the husband?" someone called out. "Right here," A said, and he was magically beside me. I told him how much I loved him, how he was the most important thing in my life. That we have our Chloe, and that we would get through whatever he outcome was here. He tried to engage me in light talk about names for the baby. "Igor", I said. I could not bear to name a baby who might be pulled from me without life. Still, I relaxed. I heard the doctor talking to the resident, something about my ovaries. Were they on the table? I wondered. Then they announced the pressure that I had heard would precede the baby's arrival. No pain, just weirdness. A gurgling shriek. "It's a boy!" the doctor said. "Is he okay?" I asked A, who was permitted to gaze over the partition. "Yes," he said, without great confidence. "Not too little. Pale." The cries became more robust. "Apgar 9/9" someone announced. I knew as much to know that was a good thing. They handed him to A. "They would not do that if he was not okay..." a nurse above me said. He was beautiful. I know everyone says that, but I expected the baby to look war torn somehow. He was really just lovely. I did not 100% believe that everything could be okay, but in that moment, regarding father and son in equal states of lovliness, I let myself believe it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Like a record (Baby)...

Even before I started blogging, I have always been pretty much an open book. Not an exhibitionist by any means, but when people ask me questions, I don't spend time strategizing around the answer.

My mother, a shrink, always told me that this was the kiss of death for dating. "Just spin yourself in the best possible light!" she would order, when I would discuss that time around the third date when the past is discussed over low lights, vodka, overpriced sushi and the headiness of new romance. A friend refers to this as the "baggage claim", when you gaze into the eyes of a pseudo stranger and start spilling your secrets on cocktail napkins.

I could never do this. I don't have much to unload, but what I had, I shared. And I lapped up the lives of others, with little judgement, sometimes ignoring the red flags, other times smiling while listening to tales of exgirlfriends, depression, bad childhoods, big regrets and wondering how much of the past had really passed.

Nowadays, the new people I meet are not men but mommies. And "secrets" are shared on message boards, at the playground, at Gymboree. After childbirth, breastfeeding and overall post partum pain, I am even further stripped of any interest or energy in spinning the truth into a pretty package. So I speak with great ease about my intense feelings of fear after Chloe was born, the unimaginable pain of breast engorgement and the often excessive amounts of television my toddler consumes. I serve up heaps of honesty along with goldfish crackers, McNuggets and artificially flavored ice pops. When it comes to mommying, I do the best I can and don't even ask that much from other moms that I meet.

And yet, I am surrounded by spin. A mom sends an email, frantic for a new nanny. "What happened?", I ask. "Oh NOOOTHING", she trills. "Everything is PERFECT....I just want to be sure that I am doing the absolute best for my child!" Later I find out that her nanny has been lying to her for weeks. But she wanted to paint the prettiest possible picture, rather than reveal a crisis. There are just some people who would rather fake perfection than own up to a struggle.

I don't get it. Someone asked recently me what I am a "sanctimommy" about. And frankly, I could not come up with a single thing. Even the random assortent of kid topics that I feel strongly about: breastfeeding, early intervention, healthy sleep habits, sunscreen...I don't expect anyone else to care as much as I do. I do have many opinions -- but they are just based on extensive research and not a doctrine of belief. If someone disagreed, I would assume that they could be just as correct. I am so hard on myself, that I can't even imagine expending the energy to judge another mother. But this does not stop the spinning, and it's hard to keep up a conversation with someone who is working up a sweat in defense of the reasons her child knows all of the characters on Spongebob Squarepants, or is sucking on an pacifier on his way to Kindergarten.

My theory is that behind every closed door, exhausted parents are brokering deals, bribing, and cobbling together less than ideal situations with their kids, just to make it through the day without tantrums and gain a little peace. For all the talk of "Ferberizing", I am pretty sure that we have babies in our beds, feet in our faces, shhh, shhhing when the hours before its dark enough to feel like night but light enough that we can already sense the alarm about to go off. After the 100th carrot is flung on the floor, the only consumption of orange that happens in some homes are in the form of Cheez Its. And in the end, we are own worst critics. So why not share some of the secrets, without excuses or apology or false assertions, so that we all feel a little bit better about just doing the best we can.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Stuck in the middle with you

There's alot of waiting going on 'round these parts. I am three weeks or a month away from becoming a mother of two, depending who you ask. My contractions resemble hot flashes, which leave my brow beaded and my chest heaving. In real life, I rarely sweat. It was one of those graces god granted me after strapping me with legs that only stay smooth after shaving for five minutes and skin that burns at the slightest sight of sun. So I am waiting, for my cervix to dilate, whatever that means.

And we are potty training Chloe, kind of, which involves alot of waiting. On the can, coaxing with water and books and promises that she can unravel all of the toilet paper ONLY if she makes a PEE PEE in the POTTY. And there's the lesser known, but quite revolting practice of watching your diaper free toddler cavort around until you see a trickle (or worse) and then throwing them on the toilet. We had the "or worse" scenario, which involved me silently gagging in the corner as my husband ran around the apartment with Clorox wipes.

We are on the hinge of major change. This in between phase unravels me like a braid of hair, once tightly woven. I like to be in knee deep, once change is visible, and tackle new situations. The waiting phase makes me bite my fingers in worry and fear. My eye twitches relentlessly. I get heartburn, the kind that cannot be relieved, no matter what ROLAIDS claims.

Waiting makes me organize in fits and starts, snap at my husband who is trying to keep up with my mood swings, make long lists of to-dos, and then finally only want to collapse in front of the TV to watch someone's fictious life unfold.

And soon the baby will come, and Chloe will be sporting underwear, and I will be more and less needed depending on the day. Life will get to that place when we turn to each other and realize that we can't remember it ever being any different - when it all feels routine and well fitting. Until the next great shift. I wish I could revel in the magic of life's revisions and adventures. But instead, I will always be someone who longs for stability, the familiar. Perhaps my passport will go unstamped, my tales less colorful, but I am most comfortable in the known.