Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Let's Make A Deal

So it seems that the billing departments of the various hospitals and doctor's offices we use are sexist. I know. Weird, right? Here's the skinny.

Dave and I are trying to use whatever disposable income we have right now (extra money in our savings and my royalty income) to pay off as many medical bills as possible. If we can clear most of them by the end of the year, we can claim them on our taxes which will be a huge-o help. Anyways. Talking to these people has been, um, interesting, to say the least.

Our pediatric cardiologist is with this massive children's practice attached to the Dell kiddo hospital in Austin so all the billing is, of course, done out of Dallas. Uh, okay. So I ring them up to see what we can do and the lady tells me she can't put us on a payment plan until we have no more insurance claims pending. Uh....what? I explain to her that my baby sees her pedi cardi every four weeks, more often if needed, so there are ALWAYS going to be insurance claims pending. She became very quiet and then told me to wait until I received our next statement to try again. What? Like our baby is the only baby in the entirety of that practice who sees the doc every month?

We had some radiology bills from Nyx's time in St. Jo's NICU. I called a few weeks ago and asked if we could pay it off in installments over the next three or four months. I was told no. Well, tough titty, lady. You can take my payments or stuff it.

Dave called last week because he felt bad that I was handling the financial nightmare that was our kiddo's $300,000 (actually a bit more than that) hospital stay. Guess what? This same woman was super quick to make a deal with him. What the crap? Same thing when he called TCH. They offered him half off of our surgeon's bill (a doozy, that one) and we jumped on it.

So what's the deal? Why were these folks so helpful to Dave? Is this yet another case of weiner privilege?

I guess it doesn't really matter. We're clearing the medical debt. We're broke as smoke but we're clearing that friggin' debt. Of course, we'll be right back where we started in, like, four weeks but whatever. I try not to think about how much this next trip to TCH will cost. Just the room and board for the kiddo's CVICU stay (doesn't count meds, doctors, surgeons, tests, or the three or four days she spent in the step down unit) cost us $120,000.

Yeah. Ouch.

Luckily, once our insurance company finally sorted itself out, things didn't look quite as bleak. I mean, we're still on the line for the out-of-pocket maximum which, I've discovered, is really high compared to most people. It works out to about a tenth of Dave's gross income or just about every penny I've ever earned from my writing. :( Yeah. Sad that, huh?

And now we get to start all over with a new company on the first. Yay!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Back On The Wagon

So I'm thinking about my New Year's resolutions. I try to make career goals this time of year so I have some kind of plan for the upcoming months. I did rather well in 2009 as far as my writing was concerned. Here are my stats.

6 Short Stories
7 Novellas
2 Novels

I've sold six novellas and one short so far. The rest of my work is still in submission or awaiting final word from an acquiring editor. I'm very pleased with my output this year and hope to do just as well in 2010. It will be a bit rough juggling writing and editing with the kiddo but I'm doing okay so far.

My other resolution is to finish this weight loss business. I lost 50 pounds in 2008, gained 25 during the last few weeks of my pregnancy, lost 35 in the week or two after the kiddo was born and then gained another ten once we were home from TCH. Yeah, that kind of yo-yoing is hell on a nursing mama's body. I was actually back in pre-preggo jeans and cargo pants by the tenth day after Nyx's birth. Is that effed or what?

Today I'm sitting at 6 pounds below my pre-preggo weight. I'd like to lose another fifty or so pounds by the end of 2010. I also want to bring my 5K time down by ten or so minutes. I'm a huge-o slow poke runner but if I work at it, I can shave off that time. I think these weight loss goals are totally doable. I've already proven to myself that I have the willpower to lose fifty pounds and keep it off (pregnancy weight gain doesn't count) so I know I can do it again.

The weight loss has to be a lot slower than last time though. It's not really safe for a nursing mom to burn enough calories to shed 8 or so pounds a month. The risk of ketones in the milk and all that. I'll settle for 4-5 pounds a month.

I realize I'll probably have a setback or two while the kiddo is at TCH after her open heart surgery. When I stress, I make bad food choices. It's not something I'm proud of but there it is. I also won't be able to run or do cardio while I'm sitting at Nyx's bedside. But whatever. I'll make up for it once we're home.

So those are my resolutions this year. I thought about throwing in some resolutions to be a better housekeeper but then I just laughed and rolled my eyes. Yeah. Right.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

This is our first Christmas as a family but we decided not to go all out this year. Nyx isn't even four months old yet so it's not as if she's going to remember that Mommy didn't bake her usual cookies or string up decorations. We put up the tree, bought presents and that's about it. We'll do our Christmas dinner tomorrow but no homemade pastries this year. I just didn't have the time or, quite frankly, the inclination.

Dave and I have discussed what new traditions we'd like to start. Marrying together the traditions of our families should be interesting. Dave's family tends to have very quiet and simple Christmases. My family is loud and busy. There's a smorgasbord of food at Ama's (tamales, bunuelos, cookies, cakes, snacks...I could go on and on) and lots of fun. We do bingo, trade gifts, tell stories and catch up. Then it's off to Midnight Mass and then home to open presents.

Back in the day, Dad would sneak out of the living room while we opened gifts, slip into this big red coat, and run out to the front door. He'd drop our Santa gifts on the porch, ring the door bell and then rush back inside the house. While we oohed and ahhed over the beautifully wrapped gifts, Dad would come into the living room (huffing and puffing from his run) and act put out that he'd missed Santa yet again. What can I say? We were easily fooled!

I'm going to have to find a big red coat for Dave, I guess. I think we'll compromise and do gifts on Christmas morning. I still want Nyx to have bingo and bunuelos and all that though. Dave is really keen on the idea of an Advent calendar. I think it's a fab idea too. I know a pretty nifty Advent song in German to teach the kiddo.

Anywho.

I'm off to finish this chapter and then I'm turning in for the night.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Motorboat

So Nyx learned to blow bubbles a few weeks ago. Now she's learned to make this hilarious motorboat noise. Brrrrbbbblllliiiiibbbrrrrr. You can imagine how slobbery she gets doing that!

I'm kind of surprised at how far ahead she is developmentally speaking. Nyx has already hit most of her four month and higher milestones. She's been rolling from her back onto her belly for the last two weeks or so. I didn't know that wasn't normal until other moms gave me this terrified look and told me it's dangerous for someone so young to roll over on her own. I'm not really convinced of that though. She can pick up her head and turn her neck to either side so I don't think she's at risk of suffocating. We co-sleep (against our will but I'll get to that in a later post) so she's never alone while sleeping.

The rollover thing is only a problem in her bath hammock doohickey. She tries to roll onto her side on the hammock which sends me into hysterics even though I always have one hand on her at all times. She also likes to plant her feet, arch into a bridge and slam down, splashing water everywhere. No surprise she giggles and squeals while we sputter and blink away the sudsy baby bath water.

Obviously Dave and I are thrilled she's hitting her milestones ahead of time. She's going to be out of commission for a few weeks after her open heart surgery. She doesn't qualify for one of those "pretty" open heart incisions so she'll be cut from neck to navel which means no crawling or tummy time or other activities for a few weeks. We're hopeful she'll level out and not fall behind.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Best Laid Plans

Its funny. I was just sitting here taking a break from a late night writing session and my mind just sort of wandered to what I was doing this time last year. I was probably sleeping or writing downstairs or in Killeen with The Ash, all the while completely unaware of the fact that I had just conceived Nyx.

That cycle I had completely given up. I'd been charting something fierce but had no signs of ovulation. No temp changes. No cervical fluid changes. I was still high, tight and closed. I hadn't taken Clomid or Femara or Follistim or Gonal-F or Menopur injections or an HcG trigger. I was fairly certain December was just as unlucky as November, etc. Fortunately we deal with stress in one way: red hot marital relations.

It would take 11 weeks before I would realize that I was pregnant. During that time, Dave and I had chosen our adoption agency. We were filling out forms and trying to figure out where the hell we would get the twenty or so thousand dollars to adopt an infant. Christmas was particularly bleak for me. I sat there, surrounded by Christmas decorations, and cried. I had worked so hard to lose weight and get healthy. I'd done everything possible to ovulate. We'd privately dealt with a loss. Would we ever have enough money to adopt? Would there ever be a sweet little munchkin in our house?

And then we had the best morning of our lives. That positive test. I was ecstatic and terrified. I knew the odds of miscarriage were high. I'd already had some heavy, bright red bleeding and cramping that I'd assumed was one of my random periods. (I tend to have one every 3 years or so without medical induction.) That bleeding would make sense after Nyx was born and diagnosed with ToF. Then we would learn that most heart defect babies are early miscarriages. But not Nyx. She managed to hang on and grow and thrive.

As we adjusted to the idea of finally having a kiddo, Dave and I discussed whether or not we would do any sort of prevention after Nyx's birth. For some reason, women who struggle with infertility seem to become fertile myrtles after giving birth. We agreed we would rely on exclusive breastfeeding as our contraception of choice and leave it up to Fate.

But then Nyx was diagnosed with ToF and it became painfully clear that we had to make some ugly decisions. First and foremost, we have to consider Nyx's current needs. She absolutely needs my undivided attention right now. Secondly, we have to think about finances. We're doing okay now but we still have at least one open heart surgery to go in a few months. And then there is the very real chance we could have another baby with a heart defect. The odds of two parents without a family history of congenital heart defects having a ToF baby are, like, less than one half of a percent. Well we won that genetic lottery. The odds of having a second baby are double that. Considering we won the first jackpot, can we risk it again?

And that's where we are right now. As much as it kills me, I'm taking the mini-pill and continuing to breastfeed exclusively. In a month or two, I'll probably switch over to Desogen as long as it doesn't affect my milk production.

I know to a lot of people this probably doesn't seem like such a big deal but when you've faced your ovaries shutting down completely due to early menopause or losing them to rupturing cysts, it's just so unnatural to interfere. I'll confess that I sobbed all the way to the Kroger pharmacy the afternoon I went to have that prescription filled. Logically I know it's the responsible thing to do but what the heart wants and what the head knows to be right aren't always one and the same.

Will we give this baby business a try again? Maybe. Probably. Who knows? We'll revisit the question once Nyx is fully recovered and thriving. One way or another, we'll have another kid or two or three. Who knows? Maybe our next son or daughter is already waiting for us in some foster home.

Whatever happens, I'm learning to go with the flow. The best laid plans of mice and men and all that.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

An Early Christmas Gift

So Nyx had a cardiologist appointment on Wednesday and it went really well. She weighs a little over 10 pounds now. She's gained 4 pounds in 3 months. Not bad considering her broken heart, three weeks in the hospital and whacked out metabolism. Her O2 sats have leveled out and seem to only dip down to the 70s and 80s when she's crying. She does get a little winded when she's playing but that's normal for now. As long as there are no changes, she'll have surgery in late February or early March.

Dave and I were so relieved to hear this. We postponed decorating and gift buying because we weren't sure whether or not Nyx would spend her first Christmas in the hospital. We'll bust out the Christmas tree and lights later today. Gifts are on their way too.

The only snag in our holiday is the upcoming insurance changeover. Nyx's next dose of Synagis won't ship out until the 7th of January...but we won't have approval from our new insurance company yet. Yep. You guessed it. She won't get the injection in time--if at all. (It has to be spaced every 28 days to be effective.) Also we won't have hit our deductible yet so we'll be expected to pay for the entire $3000 dollars for the injection unless our new company covers Synagis differently than the old one.

Head. Desk.

I've tried multiple times to get a straight answer from Dave's HR rep but it's proving to be an exercise in futility. It took three weeks or so just to get a response. We were told to check out the prescription list but that was a complete waste of time because Synagis is one of those special category meds so it's not on the list. I can't call the company directly because we don't have the group plan number. I don't have the group plan number because someone doesn't respond in a timely manner. And so on and so forth.

Thank goodness it's the holidays. I'm feeling a bit charitable so I haven't lost my shit on anyone.

Yet.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Detroit Rock City

So the kiddo has discovered her tongue. She is fascinated and spends most of the day trying to grab it with her fingers or sticking it out at us while squealing. I'm hoping the Gene Simmons phase passes soon. She hasn't quite learned cause and effect relationships so the idea that snatching her tongue with her slobbery fingers makes her gag hasn't set in yet. Fingers crossed she'll make the connection soon. I'm not so keen on being splattered by booby milk and propranolol or whatever other med she's just taken.

Until she figures it out, I suppose we'll just keep pretending we're a KISS cover band around here. Nyx as The Demon. Dave as The Spaceman. Me as the Starchild. Bosley as the Catman. I mean, we might as well get a little amusement out of this bizarre stage, right?

I'm off to change and nurse this kiddo and sing her back to sleep. Flaming Youth seems apropos...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I have so much to be thankful for this year, namely Nyx and Dave-O and that pesky dog. I'm thankful for our family and friends who have been so supportive.

I'm thankful for the nurses and doctors and surgeons and techs at St. Jo's and Texas Children's who took care of our baby and gave her a chance to thrive.

I'm thankful we have insurance (even if the policy is a little lacking) and the income to break even every month. So many other parents aren't so lucky.

I'm thankful for the readers who find my deliciously naughty tales entertaining enough to plunk down the three or four bucks per copy. I'm thankful for the editors who love my work enough to buy it. I'm even thankful for their virtual red pens.

Even though it's been a year with some amazing highs and some heartbreaking lows, I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm thankful for it all.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

When Pigs Fly

Did y'all catch the vid of Paula Deen taking a charity ham to the face? Ohmigod. I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry. I love Paula Deen. She is the queen of buttery goodness.

Swine flew, indeed.

Anywho. Back to work. I'm writing in bed as Dave and the kiddo sleep. It's hilarious to see these two. They sleep exactly the same way. One arm across the chest, one arm thrown overhead, the occasional snore. It kills me.

Oh, and Nyx laughs in her sleep. It sounds hilarious, like Goofy, actually. "Uh-hyuh-hyuh-hyuh."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Party in the Back

So my baby is growing a mullet. I know. It's simultaneously horrifying and hilarious. I warned Dave subjecting Nyx to six hours of Hair Bands during one of our trips to E-town while in utero was going to have grave consequences. And now I have a mullet baby! For shame!

Her hair is still this reddish auburn color and really thick and long in the back with just the lightest dusting on top. Her eyebrows are still Horatio-Caine-orange and those eyes are as blue as ever. Who knew a chica with the darkest coffee hair and chocolate eyes could have a red-headed blue-eyed kiddo? Ah, the mystery of genetics!

On the heart front, she's doing well. The pink is fading now. Her skin has the slightest blue tinge. I won't be surprised if her sats have fallen to the seventies when we head in for her December cardiologist visit. I don't think we're going to make it to six months before we're forced back to the hospital for her full repair. She just seems to have one of those complicated cases of ToF. The shunt gives great flow to her lungs but the hole between the lower chambers of her heart is really big and allows so much of her blood to mix and--well--there's the blue baby look.

I'm a little nervous about the open heart surgery, especially considering her coronary artery is in the wrong place. It rests right where they need to make the incision. So yeah... And there's something else but I'm not sure if it's something I want to blog about. It's pretty effing depressing but it's a reality so I might throw up a post in the next few days.

Anywho. She's still a smidge on the small side. She's growing well, two pounds a month on mama's milk, but if she could just get to five or six months, her vessels would be so much bigger and easier to work with--but this is where we are and we have to trust in the skills of our surgeons.

Oh, and Dave's company is switching insurance companies on January 1, 2010. A lot of people he works with don't seem to understand why we're so annoyed. Apparently they don't seem to understand how very few pediatric cardiologists there are in this area. Can you imagine the hassle of finding a regular pediatrician willing to accept a patient like Nyx? I was sick to my stomach until I was able to confirm all of our current docs and surgeons are covered by the new plan.

I wish I could hand them the nine inch stack of hospital claims, denials and bills I have sitting on my desk right now. Maybe then they'd understand what it's like to sit on the phone with your insurance company for hours trying to figure out why the hell they won't pay for this medication or that procedure. Maybe they'd like to beg hospital, outpatient and clinic financial offices to set them up on payment plans rather than kicking their bills to collection agencies.

Folks, Dave and I had to apply for charity funds through the Patient Access Network to pay for Nyx's RSV meds. Our pedi even applied to the Children's Miracle Network fund at their clinic just in case. But we have "amazing" insurance, right? We're middle class, right? We're careful with our money and live way within our means but don't let that fool you. One sick baby and you start pinching those pennies until Abe Lincoln begs for mercy.

We were actually denied by the PANF because we make too much money. Yeah. Process that. I practically broke down when the case worker told me that. I was, like, lady, if I had as much money as you think, I wouldn't be asking for a grant to pay for my baby's medication. In the end, it turned out someone had improperly processed our application. We did, eventually, get the grant. And I am so effing thankful. It was all I could do not to cry with relief.

So now I get to fight with our new insurance carrier on the first of January to get coverage for the rest of Nyx's RSV meds. It took Humana four weeks to approve five doses but only pay for a fraction of them. Who wants to bet me United takes even longer and pays even less?

But whatever. I'm learning to let go of my medical frustrations and live in the moment. I have a beautiful, if slightly blue, baby who makes me laugh and cry and make goofy faces and sing silly songs. At the end of the day, what could possibly be more awesome than a chubby cheeked mullet baby?

Monday, November 02, 2009

Mom Jeans

So I spend a lot of time in waiting rooms these days. I've noticed something odd. I don't dress like a mom. I'm still running around in cargo pants, tees, and electric blue and hilighter yellow KangaROOS. I feel like I should hit up Dillards for cardigans and trousers and loafers. Maybe something with an applique or some puff paint? Quacker Factory sweater with some super sexy mom jeans, perhaps?

Was that a collective shudder? Oh well. Can't blame me for trying to blend in to the mom brigade.

On the kiddo front, she's doing well. Her 02 sats have fallen again but this was something we expected. Her shunt is still wide open and doing really well. Her pulmonary valve, however, is totally crapping out on her. There is no way the surgeons will be able to save it in the spring so it will have to go. She's back on her propranolol too. Poor kid hates that stuff but we've got to try to get a little more blood flow through those pulmonary arteries. Those little lungs and vessels have to grow, grow, grow before her open heart surgery!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pics!

So I finally got around to uploading pics of the kiddo, like, an hour ago. Yes, I'm awake at 3 in the morning. Why? Um, because my baby is living up to her name. She is a true child of the night. I'm sort of wondering if her first teeth will be fangs....

Anywho.

Pics. On Photobucket.

Birth & NICU

Home in September

Texas Childrens Hospital

Home in October

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Million Dollar Baby

And the shakedown begins...

So far Nyx has racked up just around a quarter of a million dollars in medical bills from her initial NICU stay and then her time at TCH for her emergency heart surgery. We're still waiting for our insurance company and the various hospitals and providers to settle with one another before we start paying what we owe. From what I can tell, it's not going to be pretty. And we still have at least one open heart surgery to go. On top of that, Nyx's monthly cardiologist visits run just over three grand. Yes. That's right. Three thousand dollars a month. Why so expensive? Well she has to have an echo and EKG every visit. Those things ain't cheap.

Today I found out the company that supplies our pediatrician's office with Synagis, an injection that will help prevent RSV, requires payment up front before they will even ship the drug to the pedi's office. How nice, huh? Our insurance company "approved" five of the six rounds of the injections. You would think they'd pay for them if they approved them but, um, yeah, not so much. These injections cost $1000-4500 per dose depending on your baby's weight.

Yeah. Digest that for a bit.

We belong to that totally unfortunate class of people who make too much money to qualify for any of the useful government programs out there but not enough money to be able to just write a check for $27,000 worth of injections. So we bankrupt ourselves trying to provide our kiddo with the injections she needs or risk it and just pray she doesn't get RSV and end up in the hospital on a ventilator again.

Sucky. Sucky.

But, hey, we don't need health care reform in this country, right? The system works great, right? I guess that makes me a big, fat pinko-loving communist for wanting my insurance company to provide the benefits I've paid for and the pharmaceutical companies not to bend over desperate parents, huh?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Se Las Lavo?

Did you wash your hands? No? Then back away from my kiddo! Since the flu, H1N1, RSV or the common cold will require Nyx to be admitted to the hospital, we have to follow strict rules around here. We just can't risk her becoming infected with any illness that might compromise her lungs. That shunt is her main source of blood to her tiny lungs and even though it's vastly improved her health it simply can't sustain her if she becomes sick. Dehydration is another big concern for Nyx. Her heart just isn't cut out for that kind of work.

So until Nyx has her complete heart repair in four to six months and then makes a full recovery, we've implemented the following rules at Casa O.

If you want to see the kiddo, you need to have had a flu shot. (Just the regular one, not the piggy flu one. Call me crazy but I'm not big on trusting the gubment to fast-track a vaccine.) No, I'm not going to ask to see your immunization record at the door but I'm probably going to ask. (You should get the shot regardless of whether or not you want to see and hold Thumbelina. It's the responsible thing to do.)

If you have a fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, vomiting or the runs, stay away from my house. If you've been exposed to someone with those symptoms, stay away from my house.

If you smoke, you need to shower and wear clean, smoke free clothes. I'm probably going to be even more super paranoid and ask that you place a blanket between you and the baby. Yeah. I'm that mom.

When you come into the house, head straight to the powder room (snooty, snooty!) and wash your hands. Dave and I strictly adhere to this rule. In fact, Dave comes right home, strips to his skivvies, and jumps into a shower before he ever gets near the kiddo. When we head out to doctor visits or the grocery store or to run errands, we come straight home and wash our hands before touching Nyx.

Don't kiss or touch her face. Keep those cooties to yourself, please!

I realize these are somewhat strict rules and make us seem like paranoid nutters but I'd rather risk offending people by asking them not to touch or visit than to risk my baby's life. I mean, what else can we do?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

26

Yeah. Today, er, yesterday was my birthday. I'm twenty-six. Gah, I'm getting so effing old. I can feel the creepy cold fingers of thirty wrapping around my neck as I fight like hell not to give up my twenties. The last few weeks of stress combined with my inability to take the lady hormones I desperately need (breastfeeding and all that) have created streaks of gray in my usually black hair. I'm starting to look as old as Dave--and damn, that's old. Like cranky old bastard yelling at the kids to get off his lawn old.

With the new kiddo and all, this year was a really laid back celebration. Dave-O made dinner, picked up my fave cheesecake, brought home a fabulous flower arrangement and an iTunes gift card. Best gift of all though? (Besides his burning love for me and the munchkin, of course.) An uninterrupted four hours of sleep. It was heaven. Absolute heaven. Dave forced me into the bedroom, turned on the TV so I wouldn't hear Nyx fussing or wailing, assured me there was plenty of breast milk in the fridge for the kiddo (enough for three feedings) and closed the door. I passed out in seconds and woke up four hours later with boobies bursting with milk. Best four hours of sleep I've had since August.

In Nyx related news, we took her in for a pedi visit today. It's the first time she's seen Dr. Svendsen since her surgery. The doc was totally impressed by Nyx's vast improvement. Thumbelina has gained one pound and two ounces since she was discharged from TCH. Yeah. She gained that much weight in, like, two weeks. Holy hell. Can you imagine what the fat content of my breast milk must be? I wondered where my ass had gone...and now I know!

On the crappy front, Nyx has a sacral dimple that we have to have checked out to rule out spina bifida or kidney problems. I know. I've just about had it with the seemingly never-ending health issues. We're still waiting for the kiddo's chromosome tests to rule out DiGeorge, Turners, Noonan and something else. Fingers crossed, she doesn't have any other underlying issues. But, if she does, we'll deal.

We seem to be getting really good at plowing through the poo.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Caterwauling

So now that Nyx has real blood flow to her lungs, not the wimpy amount that managed to squeeze through a space of less than 3 millimeters, she is having so much fun trying out the pipes. Don't get me wrong. She's not an overly fussy baby or colicky but every now and then she really likes to wail. Dave and I must be weird because we find it hilarious. No, no. It's not the delirium of sleep deprivation.

You see, Nyx doesn't cry normally. She sort of, well, sings. It's high-larious. Her run-of-the-mill cry to let us know she's pissed off at some invasive or uncomfortable test is a series of la's. As in la-la-la-la. When she's really furious, she morphs into Robert Plant. You know "Immigrant Song?" Yeah. She totally nails that one. "AAAAH-ah-AAAH-AH!" Dave and I then supply the lyrics because, really, what the hell else can you do at three in the morning?

The other morning she busted out a new tune. Ever seen So I Married an Axe Murderer? You know the bit where Charlie is singing about Rose at the end? "Rose! Jailbird! Ah-AAH!" Nyx now includes that as part of her early morning repertoire. It's amusing to say the least.

And speaking of Roberta Plant.... I'm off to answer Thumbelina's cries. Sounds like someone has a dirty diaper.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tales of TCH: The Beginning is the End is the Beginning

So we're finally home. Nyx is doing well. Her incisions don't seem to bother her much. Eventually I'll get around to posting some pics. The thoracotomy on her right side stretches from just below her armpit to the middle of her back. We've decided when people ask what the hell happened to our baby, we're going to go with the dingoes tried to steal her.

Nyx didn't come off of the ventilator until Sunday afternoon. Her catheter and arterial line followed later that night. She was able to eat a little too. On Monday mid-afternoon, they pulled her central line and moved us to cardiac step down. The privacy and rooming-in made things easier to handle.

We had a setback on Monday. Nyx lost weight for the whatever day in a row (it's all blurry) and refused to take anything from a bottle. Oddly enough, she only wanted my magic tatas. Apparently ICU and NICU babies rarely give up the bottle for the boob since the boob requires more work. The occupational therapist was really surprised and had little info to offer since she normally deals with babies refusing to go back to the boobies. Her suck was perfect. She just gagged constantly on the milk flow.

So we fought against the docs who wanted to put her on syringe feedings or an NG tube with fortified breastmilk. They agreed to give us another day before making any decisions. Sure enough, she munched like crazy on my boobies and gained weight. I'm not sure why the docs were so surprised. I mean, I know I've only been a mommy for, like, three weeks but, um, I know my kid. I wouldn't want to eat either after having tubes shoved down my throat and nose for days. I can only imagine how sore her throat was. Also being high as a kite for a week probably didn't help.

While we were struggling to avoid a feeding tube for the kiddo that Monday night, we also got a call about Bosley. He'd mounted a hunger strike at the pet resort. He hadn't had a drop of water since we'd left him on the prior Wednesday and only a few bites of food. Um, yeah, what the fuck? Why, exactly, did they wait so long to contact us? No idea but you can be damn sure we won't leave him there again. And, of course, they had no issue with charging us the full rate even though he didn't eat, drink or get his meds and slept on the concrete floor rather than bedding. Nice, huh?

So, faced with the reality that Bosley was probably going to croak, Dave had to leave TCH to mount a rescue of our snugglebumpkins. Yeah. I spent days alone at TCH with the kiddo. It was stressful and depressing but we got through it. She thrived. I dealt. Dave nursed Bosley back to health. We came home. The end.

But not really. We'll be back at TCH in six to nine months for Nyx's open heart surgery and full repair of her TOF defects. It's going to be a tricky surgery since Nyx's heart is way worse than we'd initially believed. Her pulmonary stenosis is very pronounced as are her right ventricle defects. She also has an additional vessel branching off her heart (uh, what?) and a coronary artery across and resting against her heart. So yeah. Tricksy.

Luckily our surgeon is the best surgeon at TCH and apparently one of the best in the world. Thank God for that. I don't want some flunky slicing and dicing on my kid, you know?

Speaking of flunkies, avoid, like the fucking plague, the emergency room at TCH. For a group of professionals supposedly versed in dealing with sick children, they were disappointing in their skills. They couldn't get IVs. No one washed their hands or wore gloves. The rooms were dirty. There were sick and coughing kids everywhere. They didn't follow the admission orders for Nyx and kept her in that plague infested hell hole of an ER for HOURS instead of sending us up despite our constant reminders. They showed no respect to a breastfeeding mom. They were rough in their handling of Nyx. They continued to attempt to run tests (EKGs and echos) even though Nyx was having multiple Tet spells and her oxygen saturation levels were dipping into the fifties. There were a few times I wondered if she was going to start breathing again.

Seriously, folks, our kiddo was BLUE before this cardiology resident who looked about twelve finally had the balls to put his foot down with the overbearing nurses and have her moved up to CVICU where she could be better managed. The second we hit the 18th floor, everything changed. The nurses and docs and techs washed or sanitized their hands every time they entered the room or touched a piece of equipment. They gave Nyx a mild sedative to calm her down and keep her oxygen saturation levels as stable as possible. They were gentle and calm with her. The doctors and surgeons and nurses explained every intervention or test they performed.

So yeah. From the first floor up, TCH is a great place. First floor? Ninth level of Hell.

Anywho. Off to eat. I'm starving.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tales of TCH: Part the Second

So Nyx progressed well today. She finally woke up around 1:30 in the afternoon. She's obviously incredibly confused. Her eyes dart back and forth and she tries to breathe, gag and cry. The tubes down her nose and throat make those things impossible.

They were able to remove her chest tube and wean her down to support breathing on the ventilator. Unfortunately, she's so blitzed on morphine for the pain she isn't able to breathe on her own. They gave her a few trials today but after half an hour or so she'd get too tired to breathe and would just, well, stop. And that's not good. Standing there, watching your kiddo turn bluish because she's not breathing is rather unsettling. She'll spend the night on the ventilator and we'll try again tomorrow.

We're not sure how many more days/nights she'll spend in the CVICU. Once she's breathing on her own and eating, they'll be able to move her to the main floor which means we can room in with her. Until then, this is where we'll be, camped out on Tower 17 and 18.

Tonight we weren't able to get a room in the Ronald McDonald house so we're roughing it in the CVICU waiting room with a handful of other similarly stranded parents. Honestly, it's not so bad. Dave and I were able to grab two of the recliners available for sleeping. They sure as shit beat the tiny couches and chairs.

The downside? I have to travel from the 17th floor to the 4th floor every three hours tonight to pump and leave my milk at the NICU reception desk since the Milk Bank is closed after five in the afternoon. The up and down wouldn't be so bad if the elevators weren't on lock down from ten until six. What does that mean? Well if I want to go anywhere beyond the 17th and 18th floors (the ones my CVICU parent badge clear me for) I have to go all the way down to the first floor, get off the elevator, wait for a security guard and have him send me up the floor I want.

Sounds tedious but simple, huh?

Yeah. Not so much. Just trying to get to my 10:30 pumping session nearly had me blowing a pupil. First I hopped on at 17 and went down to 1. I grabbed a tag from the front desk, got back on the elevator and had a security guard beam me up to 4. Except I didn't go to four. I ended up on 3 and then zoomed up to 10 where the elevator suddenly stopped and sat idle for nearly ten minutes. Finally it dropped straight down to 1 again. I get off and the security guard apologizes for putting me on the elevator currently on the fritz. Gee, thanks.

So I get to four. I pump. I drop off my milk. I get back on the elevator and hit the first floor but I end up heading up to the fifth. WTF? A random guy hops on with me and we get to ride the elevator all the way up to the 16th floor, stopping at every single floor, of course. But the doors don't open. We just sit and wait and then move. Uhhh, what? And then we hit 16 and drop like a rock to 1.

I hop off and race over to the second elevator bank. (Only certain elevator banks reach specific floors in the tower. To get to floors 1, 3, or 16-21, you have to use the express elevators. To reach 1, 3, 4-15 or 16, you have to use a different set. Yeah. I know. It's ridiculous.) I jump into the first elevator, swipe my badge, and hit 17. But I don't get a green light. The doors close. I wait. The doors open. The security guard gives me a curious glance. I explain my predicament. He scans his badge and I rocket up to 17 where I get a new badge so I can get up to 18 see Nyx again.

As I'm leaving the 18th floor after a quick visit with my kiddo, another mommy from the CVICU starts racing toward me and shouts at me to hold the elevator. She'd been stranded on the 18th floor for nearly an hour waiting for a familiar face because her badge crapped out on her too. Apparently the elevators here need an old priest and a young priest.

Speaking of priests, don't hold your breath for one. Seriously. We asked for a priest the night we arrived and still haven't seen one. But rabbis? Can't swing a cat without hitting one. My mom is pretty miffed about the lack of support from the Church. She's already been on the phone to the bishop, her priest and deacon in search of answers as to why no one has come to see our kiddo. She and Dad have decided they'll find a church tomorrow, grab a priest and drag him over here.

Yeah. Mom and Dad are here. Dad drove in from Artesia last night, got to E-town super early this morning, slept for a bit, and then hopped into the truck with Mom and made the drive to Houston. Dave and I don't know what we'd do without the support of my parents. Mom came down to help us before Nyx was born. Dad and my siblings came down after Nyx was admitted to the NICU at St. Jo's. Mom stayed with us until Nyx was discharged. She cooked, kept house, and did laundry so Dave and I could spend our days at the NICU and not worry about real life poo. And now they're here giving us emotional support. We know how incredibly lucky we are and are so thankful.

So anywho. Long update tonight. I'll post tomorrow with another update on Nyx. Until then, we'd appreciate any good vibes you can spare for the kiddo!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tales of TCH: Part The First

So I'm sitting in a room at the Ronald McDonald House at Texas Children's Hospital. Nyx took a turn for the worse and things got hairy really fast. She had a couple of Tet spells (turning blue, basically) on Tuesday. By Wednesday morning at her cardiologist visit, her oxygen saturation levels had dropped to the high sixties and low seventies. Our cardiologist got on the horn and within minutes we had orders to high-tail it to TCH. We were admitted through the ER a little after five and then to the cardiovascular ICU (CVICU) an hour or so later. She continued to have low sats so the decision was made to get her into surgery ASAP.

This morning at 7:15 Nyx was wheeled into the OR for a shunt procedure. She's just too tiny for the full repair so this was the best option at the time. A little after 2 in the afternoon, she emerged from the OR after the successful placement of the shunt. Her oxygen saturation levels are in the mid-nineties now and she's pink! Pink!!! My baby is pink!!!

This is a big deal, folks. Until today, Nyx has been this weird bluish purple pink depending on whether she's calm or crying. Eventually I'll get up some pics and you'll be able to see the difference.

She's currently sedated and in the CVICU until further notice. She has a long way to go before we leave the CVICU. She has to come off the ventilator and start breathing on her own again. She'll have her chest tube removed. (They had to deflate a lung to get the shunt into place.) She has to start eating again. And so on and so forth.

But we're hopeful she'll make a speedy recovery.

So anywho. That's what's going on here. It's been an incredibly stressful and harrowing forty-eight or so hours. I don't think there's any experience quite as heart wrenching or terrifying as watching your fifteen-day-old baby being wheeled into an OR for heart surgery. It's just...too much.

But we're hanging in there and slogging through it. It's sort of sad but this is our new normal. We've spent more time in hospitals than we have at home. And it sucks. Big time.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Adventures of NICU Nyx, The Finale

First of all, huge thanks to all the family, friends, and even strangers who have called/texted/emailed/commented/smoke signaled their best wishes and even offers of help when it's time for Nyx to have her surgery. You have no idea how amazing it feels to have such a wonderful support system available to us and the knowledge we won't have to go bankrupt on hotel fees while she's at TCH.

So Nyx is home. She was seen on Wednesday morning by a pediatric cardiologist out of Austin who moved around his schedule to drop by the NICU. Apparently she's the first baby in the St. Jo's NICU he's ever gone out of his way to examine. Yeah. Our kiddo is super special. You wouldn't believe how popular she was among the TAMU medical and nursing students, Blinn Nursing and EMT students, and even flight medics/nurses. Dave and I allowed them to listen to her heart (she has a hellaciously loud murmur) when she wasn't fussy. You could tell it really helped them quite a bit to see/hear this condition, especially the flight nurse.

Anywho. Back to Dr. Schaeffer. Nyx has what he describes as "garden variety TOF." She's not the very worst nor best case scenario. She's sort of pink Tet most of the time. The biggest issue Dr. Schaeffer discussed with us is Nyx's size. She's small. Like tiny for nearly 40 weeks. She's 18 inches long and just reached 6.5 pounds on Friday. It's the double whammy of that two vessel cord and the wonky heart.

Her size rules out most of the heart surgeons except for two, one in Houston at TCH and another in Dallas. We've opted for the Houston surgeon because he's close so we can control costs and because he does a lot of these surgeries. Dr. Raju (one of our neos) describes these repairs as the bread and butter of Dr. Frasier's team so that's comforting in an odd way.

The plan for right now is to keep Nyx at home as long as she's stable to grow. She'll continue to trend down (deteriorate) over the next few weeks or months until our hand is forced for the surgery. Fingers crossed she'll reach ten or twelve pounds before she her oxygen saturation levels drop to the high sixties. If she's still too tiny for the open heart surgery, we can try a temporary shunt until she's bigger. At this point, it all depends on the size of her pulmonary arteries. We won't know about those until we meet with another pediatric cardiologist on Wednesday.

Yeah. We're seeing a lot of doctors and planning on lots of tests. I'm trying not to think about costs but I figure we have a million dollar baby on our hands. Christ only knows how we're going to pay for all this but we'll figure out something. We always do.

Oh, and if you ever need heart medication for an infant, be prepared to lose your effing mind before you find a pharmacy able and/or willing to compound it for you. For fuck's sake, I thought I was going to blow a pupil Wednesday afternoon trying to get Nyx's propranolol prescription filled so she could be discharged the following morning. We finally, FINALLY, found a Walgreens with the medication in stock and the willingness to compound it for us. I almost wept with relief. Now I have to be hyper vigilant about keeping the 'scrip filled.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Adventures of NICU Nyx, Part Two

Today marks Nyx's fourth day in the NICU. She's making progress. She's come off of oxygen and is on room air. She's had an IV removed and is no longer on the TNP (Total Parental Nutrition.) Her feedings have been increased to 40 mL. She doesn't have jaundice after all. Her umbilical line will stay in for a while as will the NG tube. They're slowly weaning the flow of room air through her nasal cannula. Her pulse ox levels stay in the 80s with occasional dips into the 70s--and that's a problem.

On Wednesday, a cardiologist will evaluate Nyx to decide if she stays in our local NICU for a few more weeks or if she goes straight to TCH for open heart surgery. Our preference would be for Nyx to get a little bigger and stronger before they start slicing and dicing but if she continues to struggle with oxygen saturation our hand will be forced.

This limbo of uncertainty is incredibly difficult. We can't make any plans beyond the next three hours. Tentatively, Dave will return to work sometime next week if they decide to keep Nyx at St. Jo's. We're not flush enough for him not to earn a paycheck while she's in the hospital. We try not to think about the financial impact this is going to have on our little family but, obviously, it's going to be great.

Our stress levels are high. Dave is trying to take care of me and the baby. He crashes at night but hops out of bed the second our alarm goes off. I think I've slept maybe twelve hours or so since giving birth four days ago. The rest of the time I just lie there and think--or cry.

Or I'm up pumping. Nyx can't breastfeed so I'm doing whatever I can to make as much milk as possible for her. My milk is starting to come in fully today. I can't even tell you what a relief that has been for us. Friday was particularly rough because I couldn't get more than a few drops of colostrum. I felt like such a fucking failure.

Emotionally and mentally, we're both worn out. This is experience is overwhelming--and it's just begun.

Friday was the lowest point for me so far. The reality of a baby with a congenital heart defect finally hit me. I'd been in the post-labor daze before that so I hadn't really had time to process what, exactly, it meant. I couldn't stay in the hospital for another night because our insurance wouldn't cover it (Fuckers!) so I was going to be discharged in the afternoon. I had pumping issues and I'd spent the night listening to other mommies in adjoining rooms tending their babies.

I cannot begin to explain to you how empty that feels. For nine months, you've carried this tiny life inside you. You've felt her kick and move. You're never alone. It's comforting. And then you give birth. Normally you have an infant to hold and cuddle and feed and love on but when you don't have that, when your baby is in an isolette in another part of the hospital, it is devastating. There is no word to describe the profound emptiness.

When my nurse wheeled me out of the post-partum ward, I had a breakdown. All these people in the waiting room gave me pitying looks. Downstairs in the lobby it was the same story. Most mommies in the maternity ward wheelchairs leave with a baby in their arms. I had a messenger bag and a sac of breastmilk collection bottles. Seeing the empty car seat set me off completely. I wept as we left the parking lot.

We stopped by Target to pick up a breast pump and the met Mom and Dad for dinner--my first real meal in days. When we walked into the restaurant, guess what song was playing? Won't Go Home Without You by Maroon Five.

What the flying fuck?!?! Seriously. I started laughing at the absurdity of the moment. If fate or God or whatever really wanted to fuck with my mind they couldn't have picked a better way to do it.

After our night visit, we finally went home. I sobbed in bed for quite a while. Dave held me and made it better. Having that empty bassinet next to our bed wasn't easy.

But I'm better now.

We're settling into a routine. I wake up at 6 to pump. We shower at 7 and have breakfast. We leave for the hospital around 8. At 9, we have our first visit one hour visit of the day. I pump in the back room of the nursery at 10 and then we spend a few minutes in the waiting room before heading down to the cafeteria for lunch. At noon, we have another one hour visit with Nyx. I pump again at 1 and then we sit in the waiting room. We visit again at 3 and pump at four. Then we go home and eat and deal with real life crap until 8 when we leave for the hospital again and our last visit at 9. I pump at 10. We leave the hospital. We go to bed. I get up at 2 to pump and then again at 6 and we start all over again.

Yeah. We see Nyx four hours a day. We finally got to start taking her out of the isolette to hold and feed her. That helps immensely. But it's still not enough. What new mom and dad want to only touch and feed and love on their baby four hours a day? It's an excruciating and unspeakable torture.

But we're getting through it. We have no other choice.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Adventures of NICU Nyx, Part One

Or I Can Haz Baby With Heart Defect

Calixta Nyx was born on September 2, 2009 after, like, 17 hours of labor. On Tuesday afternoon, I had an OB visit that went not so well. My blood pressure had spiked dangerously high (165/104, 167/109, and 139/98 after 30 minutes of resting with my feet up) so we had two decisions. I could go on complete bed rest until the baby came on her own or I could be induced. Since my cervix was ripe, I chose induction as the safest route.

That night, though, my water broke at a quarter 'til one. My contractions started almost immediately so I labored at home until 5:30. I was supposed to call the hospital at that time to get instructions for my induction. Dave gave them a ring and they told us to come on over since my contractions were three to four minutes apart and I had the blood pressure issues.

I labored until almost two in the afternoon without meds and minimal intervention. I had two amazing nurses who were totally respectful of my wishes for a low intervention birth. Mom crocheted on a couch and timed contractions for us. Dave was unbelievably supportive. He walked with me and held me through contractions. He kneaded my back and encouraged me through the rough spots. It was almost textbook.

Until my blood pressure started to spike. It was high all through labor but by noon it was back in the 160s. I had two choices at that point: magnesium sulfate or an epidural. Around that same time, I stopped progressing. I had labored for three hours without progress. My cervix was completely effaced but just wouldn't dilate beyond 6 centimeters.

I had a moment of panic when I realized something wasn't right. I chose the epidural to lower my blood pressure as quickly as possible and the pitocin to get my cervix moving again. Neither were particularly bad. I would have preferred not being stuck 7 times by the anesthesiologist but whatever. He got the epidural in and I got my pitocin and my cervix went from 6-10 in less than an hour.

I gave one test push a few minutes before four in the afternoon. The nurse's eyes widened. The next thing I know they're all running around setting up the room. I could feel Nyx right down there, just waiting around so when I got the okay to push again, I did. In a handful of pushes, there she was.

The cord was wrapped around her neck twice. That wasn't cool. She started screaming after a little sternum rubbing and was plopped onto my chest. I held her for a while before they took her over and cleaned her up a bit. Soon she was back in my arms and trying to breastfeed. She latched on for a minute or two but seemed disinterested. Dave took her over to the nursery to be cleaned and weighed while I was cleaned up and moved to my post partum suite. He left a little after that to find some grub since he hadn't eaten all day.

After an hour or so, I started to worry. Where the hell was my baby? I asked the nurse and was given the runaround about how it takes a little time, blah, blah, blah. I knew something wasn't right.

And then the neonatologist came inside my room and delivered a bombshell.

Nyx wasn't breathing well. She had a massive heart murmur. Something was wrong. Seriously wrong.

I went cold. This wasn't right. I'd had a great pregnancy and a shit load of ultrasounds, all of them unremarkable. How could my baby have a heart problem?

When Dave returned, I had to break the news. He was clearly upset. A little while later, a second neonatologist came into the room. They'd done a quick xray and could see obvious abnormalities of her heart. They were waiting for an echo. They wanted to give her various medications. Did we have a preference as to which hospital we might send her to?

We made decisions as quickly as possible and hoped for the best. Dave was able to go down to the NICU to see her and speak further with the neonatologists. I had to wait in the room. It was excruciating.

Soon Dave returned and described Nyx to me. It was painful to hear. I imagined the worst. I was told I could go see her so my nurse bundled me up in a wheelchair but when we arrived they wouldn't allow us into the nursery. They were doing a "procedure" of some kind. I could hear my baby shrieking but couldn't comfort her. I was devastated.

Not long after, Dr. Hilal, our neonatologist, returned with worse news. They were going to fly her out to Texas Children's Hospital. I could come see her but only for a moment. Again, my nurse packed me up and Dave rolled me down to the NICU. There were wires and tubes every where. She looked a little blue in the hands and feet. It was all I could do not to break down right there.

And then Dr. Hilal gave us some better news. The cardiologist out of Austin who had just studied her echo felt an immediate move wasn't necessary. They were going to try some non-invasive therapies. Suddenly there was hope--and a diagnosis.

My baby has Tetralogy of Fallot.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cankles & Corn Dog Toes

Oh, good God, am I swollen! It's, like, pitting edema bad. My blood pressure is still okay so my doc isn't overly concerned. I can no longer wear my size 10 Crocs (I wear a 7 1/2 when I'm not knocked up) and had to pick out a pair of man-sized flip flops from Old Navy. I want to burst into tears every time I look at my fat cankles and corn dog toes. Seriously. My toes look like those tiny corn dog bites you can pick up in the freezer section. Can you say sexy?

Also I think my mom is trying to kill me with all her shopping trips. She keeps telling me that walking is good for me and I keep telling her that walking would be much easier if I didn't have a watermelon pressed up against my hooha. Her response? Quit whining. Also, tonight, we made a run to Walmart and the grocery store and she hit every pot hole and speed bump she could find. I finally asked if she was trying to knock the baby loose. She said no but I'm not so sure...

On the baby front, I had no change in dilation this week but I was 50% effaced on Thursday. This kiddo is taking her sweet time. She still has a few days left until her eviction date so I'm not quite ready to pull out all the stops (evening primrose oil, red raspberry leaf tea, castor oil, red hot monkey sex...) We've agreed not to even discuss induction until 41 or so weeks unless there is a medical necessity. I could be looking at another 2 weeks of waddling and sporting the "smuggling a watermelon and two cantaloupes" look but whatever. It's all about the baby. When she's ready, she'll let us know.

Oh, and I cut my hair. I hacked off 24 inches for Locks of Love and another 3 or 4 during the haircut. I'll post pics later. I'm really enjoying the new look. It was way overdue.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Due South

So for the last few weeks, my family has been struggling with the realities of the crappy economy. Recessions aren't kind to the oil and gas industry. Dad's worked for the same company for nearly thirty years. He's risen through the ranks and has established himself as an incredibly useful employee. Thankfully, he was offered a chance to keep his job rather than be laid off--but it comes with a price.

Starting tomorrow, Dad will now work out of Mexico. Of all the places they wanted to send him, this is the closest and makes the best use of his skill set. He'll live on the borderish in a hotel for a few weeks and then move into an apartment or town house until next spring. He and Mom will buy a house some time after that.

Mom will travel between E-town and Dad's new space every three weeks or so. My sister, Tricia, is still in high school and rather than drag her down to a new place, my parents have chosen to make sacrifices so she can graduate with her friends. Joey will take over for Mom while she's gone. It won't be easy but they're going to make it work.

I know it's silly but it's really upset me. I haven't lived with my parents in, what, seven years or so, but it's still hard to think that my daddy won't be in E-town when we go home. I don't like the thought of my dad being alone in Mexico or my mom on the road every three weeks. I hate that my parents won't get to see as much of the baby as they'd originally planned. I know they still plan to make as many trips up here as possible--and we hope to do the same--but it's just going to be more difficult. We're looking into web cams as a possible solution.

For the most part, both of our families are centered in the E-town area so we could take one trip and see everyone. If we planned well, we could even see Dave's far flung relatives who come into town for the holidays. Hopefully Dad will come home from Mexico for Christmas and such but who knows. At this point, the word on the grapevine is that the district Dad's taking over is in dire straights. It's one of the reasons he was asked to go down there. The man is a hard ass capable of whipping people into shape whether they like it or not.

So anywho. That's where we are right now as a family. It's bittersweet. New baby. New addresses. Changes all around.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Nesting and Stuff

Nope. No baby yet. I've had, like, twenty emails and texts over the weekend since I've gone off radar. LOL. It's nice to know people care!!!

Apparently I'm nesting and I'm not sure I like it. I freely admit that Dave does the bulk of the housework around here. Cooking and red hot marital relations are my contributions to the household. We clean bathrooms together but that's about it. I mean, I'll load the occasional dish into the dishwasher or unload it once in a while. I've even been known to wash a load of laundry if I'm completely out of jeans or tees or undies.

Over the last few days, though, I've gone insane. I was struck by this relentless urge to Pledge something, anything. So I did. I organized and decluttered my desk. I cleaned the bookshelves. I bought a new table cloth and curtains and curtain rods. I folded and stacked and restacked my cloth diaper stash. I just vacuumed and dusted the living room--and it's one o'clock in the morning! HELP!

My mommy is coming down on Tuesday! I get calls from her, Dad, Tricia, Joey, and Marcos at least once a day. It's odd to have my brothers asking about the state of my uterus. I'll be more relaxed when Mom gets here. She's done this, like, four times. I'm hoping she'll take some time to rest too. The last few weeks at Casa H have been hectic, especially now that we're an international household--but I'll blog more about that tomorrow. Oh, and Ama, my grandmother, assures me I won't deliver until the first week of September because the full moon arrives that week. I'm inclined to believe her. She's never been wrong about this sort of thing before, you know?

I did think I was going into labor the other morning before our pedi visit. I felt like yakking and had some hellacious contractions but the second we stepped into the pediatrician's waiting room everything stopped. Later, at Target, I had contractions again. Some of them bad enough I had to stop walking. I jokingly mentioned to Dave that dropping Zaphod on her head in the shampoo aisle of Target would make a really great blog post--and cement my status as super classy, lol.

Oh! Pedi visit went so well. Dr. S breastfed all of her kids and is super supportive of breastfeeding moms. She doesn't use those ridiculous weight charts that mandate such and such percentage of weight gain by this day or that day. She considers every baby to be individual. As long as Zaphod has the right amount of wet/poopie diapers and gains consistently, Dr. S won't even mention supplementation. She's also a believer in delayed vaccination. Zaphod will get DTAP (because pertussis is prevalent in this area,) HiB, and the polio vaccine and that's it. We'll add in the others as she gets older. I'm a smidge worried about the DTAP because my cousin's cutie, Landon, had a major reaction to it. Like stopped breathing. Yikes. So I'll probably have a mild panic attack when she gets that shot.

We finished the nursery and put a bassinet (Pack n Play, actually) in the bedroom. Bosley is not amused. He sniffs the bassinet and snorts on it. He seems to be coming to terms with the inevitable. We've stockpiled dog toys in the Harry Potter closet downstairs so we'll have things to give him when the baby gets here. "Look, Bosley, a baby! And a new fat duck!" Fingers crossed bribery works with dogs!

I've completed the last of my must-finish projects. I'm hoping to have time to write one more short story for a private invitation by an editor to an upcoming anthology. After that, I'll probably just work on the m/m novel I'm midway through at the moment. I'm finding it difficult to work because the fingers on my right hand have gone completely numb. Seriously, if I were pervy, I could give myself "The Stranger."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

Or, um, don't. Dave and I are really struggling with the issue of vaccination. No, we're not those fringe folks who think all vaccines are evil or cause autism. We just have valid concerns about the staggering number of vaccines given to babies in the first twelve months of their lives. I mean, seriously, does a baby really need sixteen to twenty vaccines? I don't plan on allowing Zaphod to splash around in raw sewage, filling her sippy cup with filthy water from the first puddle I stumble across in the Target parking lot, or taking her down to the docks in Houston and rubbing her all over the various folks stepping off of the boats they've stowed away on from lands far and away.

Look, Zaphod is going to be breastfed (at least for the first week, although my goal is twelve months) so she's going to get all of my antibodies from my magic tatas and their fountain of colostrum. If I get the flu vaccine and breastfeed, guess what? Zaphod just got the flu vaccine. So why the hell does she need a Hep B vaccine within hours of being born? I have Hep B immunities from the vaccine. I'd like to think by newborn won't be coming into contact with blood, semen, or body fluids raging with Hep B virus. And rotavirus? She's not going to daycare. She'll be home with me or Dave, like, ninety-eight percent of the time. We're dedicated hand washers so the odds of us giving her the virus are, like, slim to none.

And what's up with the chicken pox vaccine? Since when is chicken pox such a horrid disease kiddos need vaccinations against it? Having the chicken pox is a rite of passage. You stay home, eat ice cream, watch cartoons, take oatmeal baths, and let your mommy slather pink lotion all over your itchy bits. It's like vacation--just with the itchy squirmies.

What happened to letting kids develop immune systems the good old-fashioned way? Dude, when I was a kid, my mom and aunts made sure we all played together when one of us had chicken pox. We all shared the same coughs and colds and bouts of flu. We turned out just fine.

So that's where we are at the moment. We meet with our pediatrician on Friday and plan to discuss our options, namely delaying some of the vaccines. We're sort of interested in the idea of one live virus and one aluminum containing vaccine at a time. Over my dead body will we allow Zaphod to receive four or five or six vaccines in a single visit. That's insanity. How the hell are their tiny little immune systems supposed to react to such a bombardment?

We're gearing up for "The Look" from our family and friends when they find out we're delaying or denying vaccines. I was pleasantly surprised by how supportive my mom and dad were. Mom was stunned to see how many vaccines are required now. My brother reacted badly to every vaccination he ever received so she looks at it from that angle.

We haven't fully researched our options when it comes to enrolling Zaphod in kindergarten. If it comes down to it, I guess we'll look into homeschooling. Then again, with the state of education in Texas, that might not be such a bad thing...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Foushta!

So Bosley has developed this totally amusing and slightly annoying habit of never allowing anyone else to have the last word. No, really. If we command him to stop barking at the fat cat outside or speak sharply to discipline him, he does this hilarious grumble, grumble, bark, bark, grumble right back at us. I have no idea why he does this. He's at that teenage state of Great Dane development so I'm guessing he's reached his sassy age. It goes something like this.

Me: Quiet!
Bosley: Bark!
Me: No! Don't bark at Mama!
Bosley: Bark!
Me: Look here, Sassyfrass! Don't talk back to me!
Bosley: Grumble. Grumble. Bark.

And then he'll dramatically throw himself onto the floor and sigh loudly or snort at me.

Dave and I were struck by how much his behavior mirrors that of Dr. Van Helsing (aka Mel Brook) in Dracula! Dead and Loving It! You know that scene where Van Helsing and Dracula are trying to get the last word? Yeah. It's like that.

"Foushta!"



*Baby update: Had another visit today. I'm now 3 centimeters dilated and the baby is fully engaged. I'm still having a mix of Braxton-Hicks and holy-crap-that-effing-hurts contractions. Doc A estimates the baby won't make her debut for another week or so. My mommy is heading this way sometime next week.

Oh, and Dave is nesting. No really. He's cleaning carpets on Wednesday and changing linens. The man has lost his ever-lovin' mind. The extent of my nesting? Noticing the dust on the coffee table but being too damn tired to roll off the couch to do anything about it.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Home Stretch

So we're just a day short of being 37 weeks. The baby is doing really well. Her cord problem doesn't seem to be causing any issues. She's a smidge small but that's okay. My amniotic fluid levels are awesome. She moves all day long and has a great heartbeat. We'll have her kidneys checked out a few times over the first year of her life to make sure they're okay but other than that everything is just fine. Huge relief!

This week I was lucky enough to be introduced to the wonders of prodromal labor. I started having lower backache, cramps and the occasional gnarly contraction on Monday. By my Wednesday appointment, I was nearly two centimeters dilated. The last few days, I've gone maybe twelve or so hours between contractions/cramping/backache. *TMI ALERT* (I lost part of my mucus plug today. Can you say icky? Why the hell don't the pregnancy books tell you about that lovely experience?)

Being in sort of labor but not is tiring but whatever. Dr. A is totally confident I'll have the no intervention labor I want but I'm keeping my mind open and accepting of any eventuality. Emergencies happen and I don't want to set myself up for disappointment. At this point, though, I'm thrilled my body is doing what it's supposed to--just not in the usual way. Most women go through all these labor changes over a few days and get it over with but not me apparently. But, hey, I've never done things normally. Why would my birthing experience be any different?

We attended our breastfeeding class the other day. Our instructor was totally fabulous. She also teaches WIC moms so she's not one of those lactation consultants who thinks you need to buy a super expensive pump and all kinds of gadgets. She involved all the husbands/partners in the class and even taught them how to provide privacy for a mom nursing in public with newspapers hugs and smoochies, and the old standby blanket. Honestly, I think Dave took way more notes than I did. I am so glad he's so involved in this pregnancy. There's no way I could even attempt to tackle exclusive breastfeeding without his support.

Let's see. What else? Oh! Dave put together the stroller and car seat this afternoon. Bosley lost his ever-lovin' mind. You have not seen hilarious until you see a big ole Great Dane barking and snarling at a stroller. Dave probably made it worse by chasing him around the living room with it. Bosley seems convinced the stroller is stamped with Satan's seal or something. I'm really looking forward to our first walk as a family.

We hit up Kroger's today for their super double coupon event. Mama got her save on, lol! I saved $150 in coupons and got $400 worth of groceries for a little over $200. Most of it was pantry stuff. We decided to stock up the pantry for the next few months. I got boxes of Kellogg's cereal for fifty cents a piece and free yogurt, cheese, Miracle Whip, mayo, ice cream, toothpaste and shaving cream. I paid less than a dollar for just about everything else in our basket including Charmin, Bounty, pasta and more.

I was so stoked to go through checkout with my massive stack of coupons. It was fun to see my kindred spirits working through the aisles and sifting through their coupon boxes. I mean, okay, I was the youngest couponer in that store by about three decades but whatever. I'm keeping the art of living lean alive, lol.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Road Trip Rundown

Whoa. So it's been a while since I blogged. I've been swamped. We drove halfway across Texas for our baby shower and then drove right back--all in the same weekend. Can you say exhausting? But it was worth it. It was so nice to see our families. Dave got to spend some time with Kati's kiddos and I got to spend some time with my crazy family. The shower was a blast too.

Once we were back in town, Dave went straight back to work. He's piling up PTO hours for paternity leave and we're trying to finish padding our savings account. We've done really, really well since learning we were pregnant. I mean, seriously, money is the last thing on my mind--and I'm so grateful for that. I really don't know how people juggle the stress of a new baby with the stress of finances. Can you say nightmare?

I had two new releases on back-to-back Fridays (Sparks from Cobblestone and Ultimate Prize from EC). I didn't hit nearly all the promo spots I wanted and Swiss-cheese-brained me forgot to reserve a banner spot on a couple of the review sites I like. Silly, self! Oh well. Advertising two weeks following a release is just as good. Right, lol?

I finished my novel targeted at Silhouette Desire and took the query plunge. I nearly barfed when I handed the envelope to Dave-O for the mailbox. I feel really settled and secure and confident when it comes to writing erotic romance and erotica, like I've finally hit my stride, but when it comes to category, I'm really nervous. I had the fabulous ladies and dudes at Romance Divas run my query and synopsis through the ringer. Fingers crossed!

I'll update on the baby and pregnancy tomorrow. Things are going really well and the umbilical cord scare we had turned out just fine. We'll have another ultrasound next week to take a peek at my amniotic fluid levels. If everything is cool, we'll just keep on keepin' on until Zaphod is ready to make her debut. If not, well, we'll cross that bridge if we get to it.

Anywho. Here's the highlights from our few days in Eldorado.

1) My dad has some swelling problems. (Heat, diabetes, heart stuff, huge-o stress at work) He couldn't find a pair of ankle socks to wear the morning he was getting ready to head out to drag race his beloved car so he took a pair of scissors and cut off a pair of tube socks at the ankle. I thought Dave was going to pass out he was laughing so hard. Mom? Yeah. She wasn't nearly as impressed.

2) Mom and Dad's dog is an outside dog, for the most part. Bosley is an inside dog. Dad got a kick out of trying to stir up animosity between the two dogs. Here's a snippet of a convo I overheard.

Dad to Doofus: Look at that! He's in the house, in the air conditioning, eating scrambled eggs Dorie made! What a rich bastard!

Then Dad proceeded to feed Doofus a hamburger left over from grilling the night before so who, exactly, is spoiled?

3) Speaking of burgers. Avoid, like the effing plague, the DQ in Llano. We had the worst service ever. It was so bad I had to complain. They didn't have what we wanted so we had to change our order. We had to sit in the drive-thru for half an hour while cars backed up behind us. Dave was about to blow his stack when they finally brought our food. It was disgusting. Seriously. My burger was gray and icky. It also tasted like Windex. So yeah. Gross.

4) On the way home, my iPod died so Dave plugged his in and forced me to sit through his musical choices for the rest of the drive. That particular slice of his playlist was country heavy. Garth Brooks, to be exact.

Me: Do you remember those hideous Garth Brooks shirts? You know, the ones with blocks of color, like purple and black, or checkered patterns?

Dave, uneasily: Yeah....

Me, guffawing: OMG. You wore them, didn't you?!?!

Dave: No comment.

It's times like that I enjoy the age difference the most. There is nothing funnier than knowing Dave tucked his black jeans into his white sneakers or rocked out to Garth Brooks while trying to pick up chicks with teased hair and The Claw bangs. He doesn't see the humor, of course, but it just slays me.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Cloth Diapers

So I've realized the bulk of people telling Dave and I *not* to cloth diaper are people who apparently haven't seen a cloth diaper since, like, 1930 or something. Cloth diapers have come a long, long, long way since the days of pins and folds. Yes, you can still get prefolds and diaper covers but pins have gone the way of the dodo. There's this wonderful invention called a Snappi that eliminates the need for pins and the risk of poking your squirmy munchkin. Also cloth diapers come in various forms now: pockets, all-in-ones, fitted, contours, one-size. Yes, cloth diapers are more expensive in the beginning (one-size dipes run from $18-26 a piece, covers from about $10) but they are so worth the investment.

Here's a rundown of our diaper stash.



(Left) 2 Dozen Unbleached Chinese Prefolds Infant Size, diaper service quality
(Right) 2 Doezn Unbleached Chinese Prefolds Premium Size, diaper service quality

(They haven't been washed and stripped yet so they aren't fluffy.)





(Left) 3 Thirsties Diaper Covers
(Right) 3 Bumkins Diaper Covers in Dr. Seuss Print




4 Fuzzi Bunz One Size Pocket Diapers




(Top) 2 Happy Heiny One Size Pocket Diapers
(Bottom) 4 Prorap Newborn Diaper Covers




Not a cloth diaper. This is Bosley with his duck head. He's about to start weeping because I was in the nursery, sorting out my cloth diapers. Have I mentioned what a huge blubbery baby he is about the new addition to the family? Seriously, there is nothing more pathetic than a 150 pound Great Dane pouting and whining because he's no longer the only "child."

Monday, June 29, 2009

Das Bump

Well, folks, we hit 30 weeks today, and, holy hell, do I have one humongous bump! For a woman who's gained less than five pounds (or maybe none at all, depending on which scale I've hopped onto) I'm just stunned at the size of Zaphod's uterine cocoon. I'm almost terrified to imagine what I'm going to look like in a few more weeks. Doesn't help that my tatas have swollen to massive proportions. I'm flirting with EE territory I fear--and my milk hasn't even come in yet. Lord help me! I might have to hang counterweights off the back pockets of my jeans to keep from tipping over!

Anywho. Here you go. Point and laugh at Das Bump. Oh, and don't stare too long at the chicken wings. Losing fifty pounds in six months does that to a body. No worries though. As soon as Zaphod makes her debut, Mama's right back on the fitness wagon. I'll have that flab toned up in no time!



Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fruits of My Labor

So I chose not to put in the big garden as we'd planned. The idea of dragging my huge-o pregnant booty outside in 100 plus degree heat and 98% plus humidity day after day to tend a garden didn't sound quite as appealing once I really gave it some thought. I compromised with a selection of patio plants. The plants are doing fabulous because I love on them every morning but, unfortunately, they're just not producing. I'm not sure if I picked a bad batch of plants or if it's just the unbelievable heat (100 plus degrees for the last two weeks with unbelievably high humidity.)

Okay. So I did get one tiny strawberry, two grape tomatoes and a bell pepper. The plants are producing but just really measly little veggies and fruits. No, really. Behold the fruits of my labor.




That tomato is about the size of a dime, folks. A dime. Gah! Maybe I chose plants from the pixie people range. I don't know. It's so aggravating it's hilarious. Every time I look at my tiny tomato and bell pepper I can't help but giggle at the idea they'd be perfect for cooking up a Lilliputian feast.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Peanut Gallery

So there are times when being married to someone who deals with the gnarliest, nastiest of emergencies day in and day out is a perk. Some days it's annoying as hell.

Yesterday, I woke up with this unshakable need to clean. Everything. So I did. I even hauled laundry downstairs. Bosley kept giving me the you're-gonna-get-in-trouble stare as I worked my way through two stories of the house. See, I promised Dave I wouldn't do any housework that requires bending, lifting, or smelly cleaners until after the baby gets here. Bosley knew it. I knew it. But I did it anyway.

And then I got sick. My nose gushed like you would not believe. It looked like someone botched a surgery in our powder room. (Quick digression--doesn't powder room sound so snooty?) While I was trying to stem the blood flow, I started having Braxton-Hicks contractions. One of them actually hurt so I'm fairly certain it was a real contraction since B-H don't hurt.

I called Dave but he didn't answer. That's normal since he's typically dealing with a patient whenever I get the urge to dial. By the time he called back, I'd kicked back in a recliner, gulped a gallon of water, and had finally stopped bleeding and/or contracting. Of course, as I'm trying to explain this to him, he's asking questions. For some reason, his partner seemed to think he needed to jump in on the conversation and offer me all kinds of unwanted advice. So then I got snippy. Like pregnant hippo snippy.

That is one of the worst parts of being married to a medic. Everyone in the peanut gallery needs to chime in with their own version of treatment. It's so annoying.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sinfully Delicious




Sinfully Delicious
, a naughty tale centering around a couple and their unashamed food fetish, hit the virtual shelves on Friday. It's something of a departure for me. I considered softening the heroine's gluttony but in the interest of being true to the character, I left her as is. I'm curious to see what the reader response will be...

Blurb:

Critically acclaimed chef, Gabe Raeburn, lives for indulging the gluttonous whims of his lover, Carmen Montes, a gourmet food shop owner. Every Monday night, Gabe treats Carmen to a veritable smorgasbord of delicious delights and the kinkiest of food play. The melding of hot sex with the sweet and savory treats Gabe creates epitomizes Carmen’s very own version of nirvana. She revels in the freedom of their relationship, in their shared fascination and absolute obsession with food.

A true glutton, Carmen is rarely satisfied. Always, she craves more—more food, more sex, more of Gabe. Just one more spicy tryst on Gabe’s dining room table, one more cupcake, one more sinfully rich chocolate truffle . . . .

But with a crazed food critic out for her blood, Carmen’s gluttony may be a weakness that proves fatal.


If you're feeling froggy, take a peek at an excerpt or purchase.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Solstice Caroling

Walking in the grass
It's so fine
Don't need shoes
In the summertime

~Spongebob Squarepants


So it's no secret I am a Spongebob fanatic. One of my absolute favorite episodes ever features Spongebob wearing the cutest little pink flower framing his face as he skips into the Krusty Krab and showers everyone with flower blossoms from a basket while solstice caroling. Why? Because it's the start of summer.

And, would you look at that, today is the first day of summer too! What a coincidence! So kick of those shoes, soak up the sun, and enjoy the longest day of the summer, folks!!!

As for me, I'm going to break out the construction paper and make a pink flower face ring for Bosley...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pass!

So I passed my three hour GTT. I totally snoopy danced when I got the results. And asked Dave-O for a donut. Not sure what the deal was with my one hour. My three hour results were all well within the normal ranges. Apparently the one hour is notorious for false positives. Am I the only one who wonders why the hell they keep giving it if it continues to provide bogus results?

Waste of time. Waste of money.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

English Vice




My latest naughty tale released today at Ellora's Cave. I had a ton of fun writing this one because I was able to explore some of the darker fantasies lurking in the far recesses of my mind. A few people have asked about the title. English vice is actually a term used to describe spanking games, particularly over-the-knee style paddling and over-the-desk caning. If you're brave, Google it. But don't say I didn't warn you first!

Here's a blurb and excerpt for your enjoyment. You can read another snippet or purchase at Ellora's Cave.

Blurb:

Every Wednesday night, Jas revels in the debauched sexual games Cy concocts. The stinging kiss of leather, the burn of hemp rope and the soft thud of suede transport her to plains of ecstasy beyond her wildest dreams. Pain and pleasure. Submission and trust.

For Cy, these evenings feed his need for kink and fuel his addiction to Jasmine, his luscious Latina goddess. With Jas, he finds that deeper connection he’s always craved. He senses she needs him just as desperately. And it terrifies him.

Love and lust—Cy knows only too well how the two can be confused. Jas knows differently…but convincing Cy means denying herself her greatest desire.



To read a longer, not for the faint of hear excerpt, clicky clicky.

2

So today--all right, yesterday actually--was our second wedding anniversary. Two (er, three) days ago we celebrated the seventh anniversary of our first date. I know. Time flies when you're having fun and all that.

We had all kinds of detailed plans for today, namely heading to Conroe to eat at one of my favorite restaurants, picking up the old skool rocking chair for the nursery, and hitting up a Carter's baby outlet. Since I had a rough night--oh, insomnia and hip pain, how I loathe thee--we ended up scrapping our plans for something a little more low key.

We laughed in the face of frugality, kicked down the a/c to the low seventies and got all snoodled up in our blacked out bedroom for a late morning of snuggles and dozing. Instead of an expensive lunch, we grabbed big, fat yummy burritos from Freebirds and hit up Target for Father's Day gifts and cards. A slice of my homemade orange pound cake with a smidge of strawberry infused whipped cream and naughty time topped off the night.

Best. Anniversary. Ever.

Oh, and Dave-O brought me the usual gorgeous flowers and card. Don't let him fool you. The man is the sappiest of romantics and I love him for it. I won't share the inscription in my card but I'm seriously tearing up over it right now. And, no, it's not pregnancy hormones. Seriously, I always wonder what our kids are going to think when they finally go through the boxes of letters and cards we've exchanged over the seven years we've been together. It's like a Nicholas Sparks novel, lol.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Pin Cushion

Worst. Morning. Evah.

Since I failed my GTT by ten points, I had to retake it today--just old skool Medieval torture style this time. I had to fast starting a little before midnight and be at the lab by 0730. Look, when you're knocked up, you get thirsty. Even though I tried to H2O load all yesterday evening, it did me little good. By the time I reached the lab, I was parched. Thankfully, Dave-O chose to fast with me so we could share in the misery together. Aw, I know. How sweet, huh?

So anywho. I had a fasting blood draw at 0740 and then had to chug that disgusting orange-flavored dextrose bomb again. I had three more draws at 0840, 0940, and 1040. Yeah. All in the same arm, 3 in the same vein. It looks like someone tried to hammer a railroad spike through my antecubital. Don't even get me started on the nausea and headache. Seriously, though, there has to be a better way to test for gestational diabetes.

Anywho. Dave and I staked out a good spot in the lab waiting room. We made sure we could see the TV and claimed three seats. I took my knitting, a new book, and a stack of coupons to clip. Over the last few days I've been struggling with the first sex scene in the futuristic romance novel I've been writing. Of course, as I clipped coupons and had no access to a pen or paper, I had a mental breakthrough. Figures, lol.

That was my day. I'm off to tackle this steamy scene. Might go put a bag of frozen peas on my arm too.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Hosed

So we have this possum problem. Our house backs up to a woodsy lot filled with a veritable menagerie of nocturnal critters. As self-proclaimed protector of this property, Bosley looks upon these nightly interlopers as his archenemies. He likes to snap at bats and bark at owls and growl at squirrels.

Well, an hour ago, I let Bosley out for a potty run and he immediately made a beeline for the back fence. It took my eyes a second to adjust to the darkness--but then I spotted it: a snarling possum reared up on it's hind legs atop the fence. Stupid move on the possum's part. I don't know why it didn't hop to the nearest branch and skitter. Bosley is tall enough now to put his front paws up on the top of the fence. The possum didn't have a snowcone's chance in hell.

This isn't the first time Bosley and a possum have come face-to-face. Last time, I almost ended up on the fanged end of the deal so I stayed well back from the skirmish tonight. Still I worried Bosley would get seriously hurt if he actually managed to grab hold of the spitting beastie. When he snapped the possum's tail between his teeth, I realized it was going to get ugly and fast. I looked around, desperate to avoid a midnight rush to the nearest vet ER. And then I saw the hose. Aha!

So I waddled my pregnant bootie across the yard, bent down (no easy feat with Das Bump) and grabbed the sprinkler. I jogged back across the yard to the spigot and unscrewed the hose. I turned the water on full blast, put my thumb over the end, and sprayed Bosley right in the face. He looked so betrayed, but it was the only way. I spent a few minutes alternating the water between marsupial and Great Dane until I managed to drive the possum into our neighbor's yard.

Bosley is still sulking. Glad to see he's not the least bit grateful that I saved him from a nasty bite and stitches. He threw something of a tantrum when he came in the house and slung water all over the kitchen before trotting into the living room and throwing himself down on the couch with a loud harrumph.

It's so nice to be appreciated....

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Dextrose Death Bomb

So this afternoon I had my glucose tolerance test to check for gestational diabetes. They send you home with this bottle of flat orange soda with fifty (50!) grams of dextrose dissolved in ten ounces. You drink it and head in to the lab for a blood draw an hour later.

Since I've lived on a clean diet for the last 14 months (limiting my sugar and white flour intake,) my system reacted, um, violently to the introduction of that syrupy sweet drink in five minutes of guzzling. Seriously, it was all I could do not to dry heave in the parking lot of the lab.

Here's hoping I pass the test. I don't think I can live through that experience again if I have to take the three hour GTT. We'll need a yak bag in the front seat....

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Wacky Mac

So earlier this evening, Dave and I decided we'd grill some chicken. We haven't had old skool baked mac 'n cheese in a while so I mixed up a batch and popped it into the oven as our carbohydrate dish for the evening. Yeah. Um. I don't know what the hell happened but some of the eggs decided to sort of scramble.

You'd think a girl with ten plus years of cooking classes wouldn't have these sorts of disasters erupting from her oven but there it was. I'm convinced it was the lack of sour cream in the egg, milk and butter mixture. I've used that recipe a bajillion times and that's the only difference between tonight and the past.

Even though it looked like a bizarre macaroni and cheese quiche, it tasted so effing good. I'm kinda toying with the idea of trying to replicate it with some yummy ham or breakfast sausage the next time we're having brunch. It will either be totally scrumptious or a barftastic disaster. I'm feeling a bit adventurous lately so I'm going to go for it.

This is the second time in as many weeks I've had a major uh-oh in the kitchen. I made some whole wheat zucchini banana bread that refused to rise. I kept poking it with a knife while cursing the kitchen gods. Finally, I realized I'd forgotten to add baking soda. *Facepalm*

I'm convinced it's pregnancy brain. Zaphod has completely sucked my brain dry of all omega fatty acids. I think the DHA supplement in my prenatal vitamin is all that's keeping me from deflating into a slobbering, jabbering mess. From what I hear, it doesn't get any better after the baby makes her debut.

Good thing Dave has a stomach of steel. Who know what kind of nightmares I'll be dishing out in a few weeks?!?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Down the Rabbit Hole

So the other day while Dave and I waited to be called in for my ultrasound, we heard the announcement that Sonia Sotomayor had been chosen as Obama's nominee for the open position on the SCOTUS. I didn't think much of it since I was reading this totally lame and yet unbelievably engaging article on Pat Boone in some random magazine I'd picked up from the stack in the shared radiology/cardiology waiting area. As I was reading all about Pat Boone's favorite desserts, I suddenly heard Tucker Carlson start shouting wildly, "But she's a racist!"

Wha-?

I glanced up to see Tucker Carlson loosing his ever-loving mind on Fox News. I mean a straight up meltdown over Sonia Sotomayor's alleged racism. I sort of a laughed it off and headed into my ultrasound. By that evening, the entire far right wing of the GOP was in an apopleptic fit over Sotomayor. And I have to say, I find it hilarious.

First of all, it's quite apparent very few of these people screaming "RACISM" have criticial thinking skills. If you read the full context of the essay in question, Sotomayor simply states that a Latina woman with a life experience similar to hers would likely make different choices than a white male. I can't disagree with that. Our life experiences, whether we're born into wealth or poverty, the majority or minority, color our judgments and ideologies. To argue any differently seems a bit ridiculous.

Example? My dad went to school during the sixties. Because he was Latino, he was shoved into this little shithole of a classroom with all the other brown kids and treated as if he were mentally retarded because he spoke mainly Spanish. Was my dad slow? Um, no. Did he really need to be segregated from the rest of his kindergarten class? Hell no. If anything, Dad was lightyears ahead of the other non-Latino students because he could communicate in two languages. Now, all these years later, my dad is a huge proponent of ESL education within the main classroom. He knows first hand what a nightmare it is to be sent away to some dark corner of the school. Most of Dad's Caucasian classmates, however, (many of them his friends) are totally against having those kids in the classroom. If they'd been segregated as if they bore some hideous disease, they'd likely feel differently.

Secondly, where does G. Gordon Liddy get off calling Spanish "illegal alien?" As in, Maria is a polyglot who speaks English, German, Russian, Arabic, and illegal alien. What. The. Fuck. Because, apparently, all people who speak Spanish are illegal aliens? Um, sure. OK. Liddy. And don't even get me started on his sexist comments about Sotomayor.

Behold in all its bullshit misogynistic glory: "Let’s hope that the key conferences aren’t when she’s menstruating or something, or just before she’s going to menstruate. That would really be bad. Lord knows what we would get then."

What? WHAT?! Did he really just go there? Since when does the shedding of the lining of a woman's uterus have anything to do with becoming a Supreme Court Justice?

Finally, what kind of crazy fruit does Tom Tancredo feed through his Jack LaLanne juicer every morning? I mean, really, Tom? Really? The National Council of La Raza is "...a Latino KKK without the nooses or hoods." I can't even wrap my head around that one. So apparently every group that exists to further the civil rights of a specific, historically underrepresented and/or discriminated subset of people is racist? Like, oh, the NAACP? Do you think Tancredo would dare make that comment if we were talking about an African American woman? I'd like to think not, but he's obviously a bit slow so who knows.

Look. Yes, La Raza literally means "the race," but to most Spanish speakers of Central America and Mexico it's used more as a way to describe a community of people. I guess you have to understand where the term comes from to really understand the idea behind La Raza. In the twenties, Jose Vasconcelos* wrote an essay called "La Raza Cosmica" or "The Cosmic Race." Vasconcelos wasn't a huge fan of Darwinism since he viewed it as a way to explain and justify the subjugation of various non-white peoples. He believed that if you looked at what was happening in Mexico, at the continuing melding of European, indigenous Mexican, African, and Native American bloodlines, one could reasonably expect that in the future a new race, a blended race, a Cosmic race if you will, would arise.

Through this blending of culture, ethnicity, and race, Vasconcelos believed we, as humans, could transcend the ugliness of racism and prejudice. Mexicans, in particular, identified and accepted this idea. They adopted the term La Raza as a means of describing their shared heritage with pride and dignity. That's it. There's nothing sinister about it.

Are there a handful of folks in La Raza who likely talk big about taking down The Man and other ridiculousness? Probably. Every group has their fringe supremacist nutters. *Cough* David Duke. *Cough* Republican. *Cough* I try not to judge an entire group based on one or two batshit crazy folks though.

Anywho. I have to say the funniest--like fall out of my chair hilarious--thing I've seen during this entire brouhaha was a comment addressing Tancredo's likening of La Raza to the KKK.

"Just last week La Raza burned an Aztec Calendar** on my front lawn."

LMFAO.

*I can't be bothered to get up and dig through my boxes of books still in the garage for the book containing the actual essay so I'm just giving a brief synopsis of what I remember after reading it a decade ago. I could be wrong. You'll have to Google if you're really interested.

**See when you go to an old skool panaderia to pick up a box of totally scrumptious pastries and cookies, they'll sometimes give you a promotional calendar. Without fail, these calendars always have these drop dead sexy half-naked Aztecs cradling buxom Latinas, shoulders bared and dresses fluttering in the wind, against their bronzed mantitties. George Lopez does a funny bit about his grandma and the Aztec calendar and her memories of a rather tawdry affair with a--well--never mind. That's a bit too risque for even this blog, lol.