when last i wrote, we were about to head to the internist to figure out the source of my mystery pregnancy malady. well, from that appointment i was admitted directly to the hospital -- primarily because upon standing my pulse rate shot up 30+ bpm to 120-something. i also could barely move.
i ended up in the hospital overnight for testing and observation. long story short, the countless tests didn't really show anything, though it did rule out a lot of scary stuff that would have been bad for me and the baby (and the baby is doing really well, by the way). we did find that my sodium and potassium were a bit low, so that could very well be interfering with my body's ability to expand my blood volume quickly enough to meet the baby's needs (which surge ahead at this point in pregnancy). the theory that i just don't have enough blood would explain all the symptoms (and explain why they so closely mirror the symptoms of anemia -- different path to the same result). i also have chronically low blood pressure and such issues run in my family. so, in the absence of any other plausible theory, this is the one we're going with.
the doctor put me on bed rest for a week, and has me drinking sport drinks and adding more salt to my diet, etc. i'm also trying to boost my iron a bit higher since that can only help. the next 10 days were worse than the first 10 i wrote about before. i basically was unable to sit up at all in the mornings, and often found that simply sitting would exhaust me. i pretty much didn't move other than to plod over to the bathroom. fun! luckily friends have been bringing us some food and helping to entertain poor, housebound eva. that made a big difference.
just in the past day or two i've been seeing a gradual upswing. i decided on wednesday (after being released from bed rest) that i'd just be better through sheer power of will and determination. that didn't work out so well; about ten minutes of very light activity around the house wore me out and i napped for an hour. today i managed an actual shower in the morning and larry took me to my midwife's office for another round of blood tests, and after we thought we'd get lunch to go at central market since we were right there. well, after a very short walk into the store and down one aisle, i very quickly realized my mistake. my body insisted that i sit down *right now* and i was at a loss for how to get back to the chairs near the entrance. i sort of stood there and felt panicky, looking for something to lean as my vision started to get fuzzy, and larry led me back to the chairs. i was really frustrated and disappointed by this encounter, realizing that "feeling better" is a far stretch away from resuming anything resembling my normal activities. something as simple as driving eva to the park for 20 minutes or out for ice cream seems out of reach at this point, and in the mean time she asks me every day "when are we going back to my music class, mama?" (we've missed the last three and there's only one left, i don't have the heart to tell her.) larry reasoned with me that my failed outing needs to be viewed in context -- i did more this morning than i've done in over a week. so, i'm getting better, but this is going to be a slow climb, i think. we'll just take each day and see where it carries us; there's not much more i can do than that.
larry has been amazing through this whole thing, tending to my every need as i sat glued to the couch, and taking care of eva as well, all the while trying to squeeze in his actual job wherever it would fit. the amount of patience and caring he has displayed overwhelms me, so much so that i can't begin to articulate how i feel about it. eva has been pretty great herself, patiently entertaining herself when we need her to (except maybe for that long 24 hrs at the hospital) and coming over to give me (and panowah) kisses and hugs and toys just because, or looking at me with peace in her eyes as she strokes my hair when i cry out of frustration. she's quite a kid, resilient and caring beyond measure. i've always known these things about both of them, but sometimes extreme circumstances allow you to see with greater clarity the things that have always been there.
first of all, happy late valentine's day. you can read more about the valentines eva and i made and sent to our loved ones on my craft blog.
the primary news of the week (and this will be brief -- well, as brief as i ever am, ha -- for reasons that will soon become apparent) is that i'm experiencing some sort of mysterious pregnancy malady. for the last ten days, i've essentially been on the couch barely moving. symptom roll call -- fatigue, vertigo and/or lightheadedness, weakness, shortness of breath, and heavy limbs. the first several days, i could barely sit up for 30 minutes at a time, finding it too exhausting. now i'm a bit better off, sitting up more than i'm lying, but still make it off the couch for maybe two hours a day (if that's something as simple as sitting on a bench or in the car), or instead, maybe an hour of light activity around the house (making my own breakfast, loading the dishwasher, helping eva get dressed, whatever). i am getting very sick of television, but a good portion of the time my arms feel to heavy to crochet or hold a book, and the lightheadedness/vertigo makes it hard to read or use the computer. i feel somewhat better in the evenings, but still find that simple projects like sewing a few lines on the sewing machine quickly make me too tired.
my very first thought was low blood pressure, since it feels sort of the way i feel (outside of pregnancy) when my usual low blood pressure dips too low. but, larry bought a bp cuff in the middle of the night (when i was having constant bed spins and felt drunk) and we ruled out a crashing bp (which helped us calm down and not immediately head to the ER). next, we looked at anemia, but my blood test came back thursday and my iron levels are fine. too bad, because that would have been an easy one to fix, and fit with all the symptoms. my midwife spoke with the backup OB, who said that if she had a patient with these symptoms, she'd send her to an internist. so, after much hunting to find someone who could see me before, say, i have a newborn, i have an appointment tomorrow. actually, i have two appointments, because before i found an internist appointment, i got in with my primary care doctor's PA so that i can get a blood draw to test my thyroid levels.
both my midwife and the OB have assured me that while i may feel awful, it's not an obstetric emergency. that said, i don't like the not knowing. i can deal with feeling this way if i have to (though it's not good, we might want some laundry done and to eat some non-take-out or freezer food at some point) but i just want to know what's going on. and every so often, i decide, hey, it's not so bad, i just need to buck up! go for it, get something done! then i head upstairs, pause along the way to rest, and wind up out of breath by the time i get to the top. or try all day to get a load of laundry done so eva can have clean underwear, only to go to bed no closer. but i waver between "oh, i'm so much better, i just need to get over it" and "oh man, i need to sit right now before i tip over." very perplexing.
we'll see if monday's appointments and the subsequent test results yield anything useful.
"The face of a child can say it all, especially the mouth part of the face."
-- Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey
as you may know, i am endlessly fascinated by the nuances of how toddlers pick up language. i love to notice which things come earlier or later, or to see the little quirks and idioms they grab on to from their parents. and all of this changes so quickly as they grow. eva is and has long been quite a talker, but this isn't about checking off milestones. i love that as her language skills grow and develop, she is increasingly able to pull back the curtains for me so i can see what's going on in her head. the more i get to see of how and what she thinks, the more i find that i just adore her spirit and personality. she's sensitive and caring, observant and curious; she has a quirky sense of humor that fits right in around here, and is sharp as a tack. none of this is news to me, but the more i see of it -- and so much of that comes through language -- the more i fall in love (if that's even possible?).
in a (very loose) interpretation of those dorky motivational posters in offices everywhere (you know, the one of the guy surfing that says "persistence" under it followed by some inspiring quote?), i've assembled some of the little language things i've been noticing lately under theme headings.
("thank you, mama.")
you know all the proverbially thankless tasks of motherhood, like bum wiping or fixing endless snacks? these are all now thanked. no act is too small to escape her appreciation radar: glass of milk, a kiss on forehead, the wiping off of the jelly from the face. "thank you mama for getting me a clean bowl." this sounds like a dream come true (and proof that modeling works! we rarely tell her "say thank you", we just do it, and now she follows in that behavior), and i'm not complaining at all, but it's sort of weird in a way, too, to be thanked a hundred times a day. as in, you don't have to thank me sweet monkey, that's just my job. this behavior, however, emphatically does not extend outside of our home. she still won't thank the clerk at target or a friend who lends her a hand. oh well, all in good time.
"okay, but first i just have to finish this one thing."
yeah, just a sec, mom. five more minutes! i think i'll be hearing this one from now all the way through her teenage years.
("i'm sorry, mama." said in the saddest small voice ever.)
this one can freak me out. she apologizes for everything that isn't her fault. if larry gets frustrated while working on a project and expresses that aloud, or if i cry for any reason (or no reason, as the hormonal case may be), she comes over, pats his arm or my head, and says "i'm sorry. i'm sorry you are sad. it's okay, i'll help make you feel better." it's very sweet, but sometimes i think in her instinct to be caring, she takes on too much of our emotion as her own. i worry about that at times. she's so sensitive to it.
assertion of opinion
("i believe that...")
"mama, i believe that those boys have one orange ball and one blue ball."
"i believe it's too cold to play at the park today."
it's weird (and at the same time, totally expected) to hear your child talking and sounding just like you. sometimes you wonder where they got a certain linguistic quirk, only to realize you say it yourself fifty times a day. ("there you go, mama." -- gee, wonder where she gets that one? if you've ever met me, you don't wonder either.) but i was telling this story to my friends and said that i didn't think i said "i believe" all the time. i stood corrected by the crowd; apparently i'm guilty of this one, too! (how is it i don't know what it is i say all day long? how can this be a surprise to me?!) but it's irresistibly cute coming out of the mouth of a two year old (you know, "the mouth part of the face").
("did you ever notice that...")
"did you ever notice that Owl and Wren both have wings because they are birds? and some dinosaurs have wings too? and airplanes!" (a shout out to all the "bear snores on" et al fans out there! :)
"did you ever notice that when i was littler i used to ride backwards like panowah will when she comes out of your belly, but now i ride frontwards? did you notice that mama?"
this is her all time top phrase. she wants to share her many observations throughout the day, and more than that, she wants to know if you know the things she knows. sometimes i don't, so she "teaches" me about it.
("don't worry." "but that's okay.")
"don't worry, i'm being very careful because i'm the big sister. it's not too dangerous." (said as she perches atop a high unstable bit of furniture.)
"oops, i dropped that spoon, but that's okay. i can pick it up later."
again, my own words turned around on me. i say these things to her when she starts to get upset about some unintended consequence of her actions. and now she reassures me about it before i have the chance.
she's been saying these for a long time. less so now that i'm used to it, but it used to just crack me up. here are some quotes i saved from around the time of her birthday last summer:
"actually, that's not juice, but it's just water."
"this look like a toy. mama, what is this actually?"
"we don't feed lemma people food, otherwise she might get sick."
"gram make food for grampy probably."
"who make this house? maybe matt maked it."
i was struck reading those, because already she sounds different -- now she knows noun/verb agreement, and gets a lot of irregular verbs. it's fascinating, watching language acquisition over time.
("is it okay if i...?")
"is it okay if i stand on the table, because i will be very careful?" um, no.
"is it okay if i draw on this paper?" hurray! she finally asks before coloring on every stray bit of paper in our house.
"i think that would be a good idea, mama. let's do it!"
"do you want to go have dinner at a restaurant? i think that would be a good idea."
"maybe we should make muffins. um-hmm, that would be a good idea. c'mon mama, let's go do it."
it's like living with my own personal cheerleader.
("... isn't it?", "...didn't i?")
"mama, that's a beautiful green shirt, isn't it?"
"i made a big huge mess in here, didn't i?"
again, a habit of mine, ending every statement with a question. but she enunciates the heck out of all those consonants in the last words of the sentence, so it just sounds so cute to me.
"i'm doing it, but it's hard and takes a lot of work. babies can't do it, only big sisters can."
we talk about this sort of thing a lot, how some things take a lot of hard work, or can only be learned through lots of practice. and, she's very much into embracing her role as the big sister (and i'm trying to help her realize how little babies can do at first -- she's got big ideas about helping panowah eat or brush teeth or play with toys right away.)
(often used words: beautiful, gorgeous, delicious, wonderful, and -- in a divergent theme -- gross)
"i really like that necklace you're wearing today, it's gorgeous."
"thank you for making me muesli for breakfast earlier. it was delicious muesli."
"throw away this avocado peel mama, it's old and gross." (as in, left over from 3 whole hours ago.)
jumbled logic or reversed causal order
"but papa, you can't do that, because i'm your daughter!" (in response to his picking her up.)
"i'm so sleepy because i'm going to bed." ahh, if only it worked that way!
and finally, the favorite: recitation
eva's taken to reciting dozens of nursery rhymes starting a few months back. it's weird, because she'll launch into one that i have barely heard of, since she gets them from books read to her by others as well as from me. a perennial favorite is wee willie winkie, and before that, humpty dumpty. a new one in frequent rotation: "tom tom the piper's son stole a pig and away did run. the pig was eat and tom was beat and tom went crying down the street!" she says it just like that, with nary a pause, but with a crescendo on the end.
um... have you ever noticed that the messages presented in nursery rhymes don't necessarily conform to current cultural norms? we're not so much with beating kids for their porcine thievery these days. that said, i tried to change the wording once in the "taffy was a welchman" one, from someone being "beat" on the head with a stick to "bonked" -- just because this seemed like an idea i didn't need to plant in her head for our next park gathering (but don't ask why bonking with a stick was deemed acceptable, it was a snap decision -- and she stopped me. i was corrected in no uncertain terms: no, mama, it's "beat" not "bonked". she's a stickler for staying on script, i guess.
but when your kid is into nursery rhymes, the strangest things come out of their mouths. like this random line: "gentlemen come every day to see what my fine hen doth lay." (said with an impromptu tissue paper bonnet she fashioned from my birthday wrappings.) i must have looked slightly perplexed in surveying the scene, because she shot me a huge grin then trotted off to sing one of her troubadour songs, the kind she writes on the fly about the toaster or a gas station we drove past.
but if there's anything that can beat nursery rhymes around here, it's the grinch. what does it mean when your baby is obsessed (still! in february!) with "how the grinch stole christmas"? talk about weird stuff coming out of your child's mouth: "for fifty-three years i've put up with it now. i must stop this christmas from coming, but how?" she rattled off under her breath while i made her breakfast. i'm used to the randomness of toddler brains, but that one made me stop and squint at her for a minute.
but why should i be surprised? the day before while making valentines, eva sang the following (to a tune of her own invention): "tomorrow the grinch knew that all the who's boys and girls would wake up bright and early and they would rush for the toys. then all the noise noise noise! that's one thing the grinch hated, the noise noise noise noise..." (i got that on tape :). she is also fond of discussing "cindy lou who who is not more than two", and how she says "santy claus, why are you taking our christmas tree, why?" or announcing that the grinch left "crumbs much to small for the other whos' mouses." but other than quote the lines to you, she'll also explain the premise of the story. the other day, she came over and took away my stuff, but then a minute or two gave it back, saying she was playing the grinch and her heart grew three sizes that day, so she brought my things back.
if she keeps this up, she is definitely being cindy lou who for halloween. i can hear it now: "i think that would be a good idea, let's do it! but actually, mama, did you ever notice that cindy lou who has yellow hair and i have brown hair? but don't worry, that's okay. it will still be beautiful!" okay fine, i'll make you a wig.
today is my birthday. i'm now 25 years old (and also, apparently, a recovering math geek). i've had birthdays that required a lot of planning on my part, and birthdays that required planning on the part of others. but today involved very little planning ("so kristy, what are you doing for your birthday?" "oh, i don't know, nothing really."), and it was just perfect. it ranks right up there at the top of the list.
my birthday experience technically started at 1 a.m., when i was awakened (having fallen asleep on the couch, foolishly thinking i could lie down and watch an entire TV episode at that hour) by my sweet husband kissing my forehead and telling me how happy he was to have me in his life. we went upstairs to shuttle sleeping eva to the potty and then go to bed. in her mostly-asleep state, larry told her it was now officially my birthday, and her eyes fluttered open just long enough for her to utter in a gravely 1-a.m.-style voice, "happy birthday, mama" (and then was instantly back asleep).
at a more reasonable hour of the day, i awoke to eva rustling around a bit next to me. "open your eyes, mama, it's morning. the sun woke up." i comply, and filling my visual frame is a sweet little face that lights up upon seeing my eyes. she throws her arm around my neck in a hug-slash-choke-hold and says "i'm hugging you so much because i love you." eva, do you remember what today is? a spark of recognition: "mama, it's your birthday today!" the three of us then hung out in bed being silly and cute for a bit before heading downstairs to a breakfast of pastries, smoothies, an assortment of glorious in-season citrus, and special decaf birthday coffee for mama. (the pastries came from cissi's market, the best assortment i've had in a long time. and i really liked that market in general, a nice urban touch in our own little city.)
eva and i then headed to the park to have playgroup with friends. somedays playgroup is nearly as challenging as it is rewarding (for eva or for me), but not today. today, the kids played. and played. no one hit anyone with a stick; there was no need for our intervention every 90 seconds. as a result, if watching the day on a time lapse film, you'd see me and my best mama friends sitting on the squishy playground surface next to the swings while a flurry of blurry children buzzed in the perimeter of the frame. time passed; other moms and kids left, classrooms of kids from the nearby elementary school came and left for recess periods, and our kids played independently while we had a (relatively) uninterrupted conversation. when the time lapse reel ends, you'll find that we were there for 4 1/2 hours. that in itself was a beautiful birthday gift from the wee ones.
we (finally) headed home to find larry. then somehow (an abandoned post-car-induced nap continuation, i guess it was) we all ended up lounging in bed again. after a bit, we got ready and headed out for some shopping and dinner.
larry had asked me what i wanted for my birthday, and i told him all i wanted was for him to take eva shopping to choose her own present for me. like many a toddler, she is obsessed with birthdays. and, on a daily basis (unrelated to my birthday) she wraps up little presents -- a crayon in a tissue, a toy spoon in a random box, a sticker folded around a small bead -- and gives them to me or to panowah (the ones for panowah must then sit perched on my belly until she forgets about them and i can take them off again). so, she was excited about shopping with papa to choose her present for me.
we headed to target (good ol' reliable target, perfect for every occasion). i ran parallel errands while eva and larry did their thing. when they stumbled across me later, she came trotting up to me with great enthusiasm, carrying a gift bag: "mama, i picked out a birthday present to give you at dinner! and i colored in it!" (apparently she then went on to charm the check-out person, and even paid all by herself. well, all by herself but with a bit of help from the bank of dad. not her last withdrawal, i'm sure.)
we had dinner at zocalo, which i'd been meaning to check out for ages now. it was really good food -- fresh and bright tasting, if that makes sense -- and the setting was lovely yet relaxed. perfect for the occasion (that being, a birthday dinner but on a friday evening out with a toddler, a set of requirements that limits one's options). the friendly owner and staff (not to mention the gratis chili chocolate cheesecake birthday dessert) didn't hurt either. eva was in rare form with respect to crowd-pleasing cute behavior and looked adorable in her new brown velvet dress (wardrobe change prompted by a refusal to don pants back at home). and with her hair up in a pony tail, when did she start looking like such a kid, no remnants of baby hiding in there at all?
she could hardly wait to present me with the special gift: the bag featured a roaring dinosaur (odd that she choose that, given her distaste for any images of animals bearing teeth). "make it make the loud sound, mama!" sure enough, if you push his belly he (nearly inaudibly, in a restaurant anyway) roars. eva had her ears covered and a huge grin on her face, enjoying and hiding from the roar simultaneously. i read the card she chose -- larry reported that she went with that one due to the flowers on the front -- and saw what she drew inside in black marker. (she had already told me six times "i colored in your present mama.") removing the tissue paper revealed not one but three gifts: the first one, which larry helped her with, was a mom and toddler exercise DVD. perfect, because i've been saying i could use a bit of exercise and eva's been obsessed with doing "kid exercises" (mostly yoga poses she picked up from her friends, but also things she makes up, like stretching her leg over the railing of her tower, etc). next i found a pair of knee-high socks in my favorite shade of celery green with turquoise trim. ("mama, we chosed the green ones because you might like that color i think.") and last but not least, eva proudly showed me an earring and necklace set -- and that was 100% her own idea and choosing. a few weeks ago, eva was playing with my new necklace lying on the bedside table and broke the chain. i tried not to make her feel bad about it, but she's able to sense these things (it was a chain larry bought for me on our belated honeymoon in hawaii, so i minded a little bit). despite my reassurance regarding the whole thing, she still talks about this. so, when i looked at my gift, she said proudly, "mama, i bought you a necklace that isn't broken!" my sweet baby. that whole thing shows some emotional understanding on her part that just makes me want to melt. where did this little person come from? and how did i get so lucky?
so, i next found myself crouching next to eva's chair to tell her "thank you", and she flung herself at me, arms around my neck, saying into my ear, completely unprompted there among the busy dinner crowd, "i love you mama. happy birthday." i had to hold back the tears. sitting back in my chair, i just blinked through my watery eyes at my sweet child, my amazing husband, and couldn't do anything but stare, wondering how on earth i ever got so lucky as to deserve this. this family -- this life, which contains such within it such moments of unbelievable beauty and perfection.
we headed home, she's sleeping now (thanks, papa :), and here i sit, reflecting on my lovely day. what more could i ask for? i can't imagine, but soon i'll look back and wonder how my life ever could have felt complete with out the presence of the new life that is about to join our little family. this new baby is a big part of our lives, each day, already. but for now, in at the end of my thirty-second birthday, i have all i need in the world.