4.30.2004

In Which I Rule

Those of you who interact with me in person know that, socially, I make efforts to be extraordinarily polite. If someone says something offensive to me, I generally shrug it off or change the subject in my slow-burning pussyfooting way.

Not today.

Today I was in a foul mood, and decided that I didn't really feel like making small talk with Dragon Lady S each time I pick Iz and Tea up from drama class. I hate S. I think she's a thoughtless, ignorant asshole. I see no reason why I should waste time pretending I think otherwise.

So, when she started trying to engage me after class, I let her have it.

S: "Wow, is Tea really the same age as my Gemma? But Gemma is so much taller! Is Tea in kindergarten, too?"

Me: "Yes, she goes to Fenry Horde. Her mother chose that school, even though we live in the Flipper school district." [bait set]

S: "Really? You know, we had to move to Featherton to get out of the Fenry Horde district." [bait taken]

Me, looking her straight in the eye and not smiling: "Yes, I remember you talking about that. In fact, you were talking to several Fenry Horde parents when you told us that."

S: Makes face of mock horror.

Me: Turns around and collects girls without saying another word to S.

I'm not sure she gets what an ass she is--but I suspect she realizes that I think she's an ass. And I doubt she'll reapproach me for chitty chat.

I consider myself victorious.

...And While We're on That Subject

Iz just came up to me, brandishing a pantiliner she'd found in my purse. "Mommy, what is this?"

After the quick, factual, hopefully not-too-convoluted explanation of the joys of menstruation that followed, she nonchalantly commented, "So, it's like a big band-aid."

Well, yeah.

But How Does the Sperm Get to the Egg?

Getting a big kick out of the Talking to Your Kids About Sex book. It is very practical and straightforward, and these people understand the way little kids think. For instance, even though preschoolers might want to learn the logistics of sex, that doesn't mean they won't think it's gross. They're years away from comprehending the erotic undercurrent, so to them intercourse is like "a man putting his nose in a woman's mouth and sneezing out a wad of boogers." Totally icky.

And there's so much more. It is a great book. I very much recommend it.

4.29.2004

Heavenly Shades of Night Are Falling...

Here's a twilight picture from my yard. I find it restful. Note that night has already fallen on my neighbors lower down the canyon--hence their twinkle lights (lower right corner).

4.28.2004

Typos and Turnabouts

I managed to place a massive typo in every post, comment, or email I wrote today. Yeah!

Things are finally turning around, finally going well with Leelo.

We got all fifty or so blood test results back, and the verdicts are all cheery. No celiac. No Fragile X, in fact no chromosomal abnormalities of any kind. No anemia from his funky diet. No funkiness or deficiencies of any measurable kind. He had elevated potassium, and one elevated liver function. I will ask his pediatrician about these items, but they don't really seem worrisome.

His language is beautiful. Thanks to herculean efforts from his therapists, he totally gets answering "yes" or "no" to the question "Do you want XX?" To those of you who don't hang with autistic kids, this may seem like a basic, something your kid learns before they start to walk. For an autistic child, though, this sort of abstract conceptualizing can be a quantum leap. A thrilling one. I am going to try to record him answering "yes!" to a question, because his voice is so damn cute.

Yesterday, he made Therapist T bring him downstairs to me by announcing "I want to go see Mommy!" He's identifying objects not just by label only, but by saying "It is a/n XX!" (And, yes, he does pronounce all sentences exclamatorily.)

Adding soy back in his diet hasn't resulted in any behavioral problems--if anything, he's seemed much more calm and focused. Although now he can't get enough of those fricking veggie puffs. If we tell him they're "all done," he'll ask for them by their alias, "cheesy puffs." Sneaky boy.

Also, two days ago we took him off Nystattin, his antifungal medication. He'd been on it since August. I think as long as we're vigilant about probiotics, dietary enzymes, and keeping his sugar intake low, he won't need it. No noticeable nuttiness so far.

He was an angel at his accupressure appointment today. Perfectly behaved, responsive to my requests.

All good. But I am still immeasurably down for some reason. With that shaky insomniac feeling I had right after Leelo got diagnosed last year, and a lot of crying when I'm by myself in the car. Isn't it just too easy to blame hormones?

That traitor who is moving to the East Coast, JM, spent a bit of time yesterday pointedly telling me about a friend whose child was recently diagnosed with Tourettte's, and how this friend has been finding a lot of solace in therapy (although in the friend's case, she is 6 months pregnant with twins, and has just found out that the likelihood of their having Tourettte's is 50%). I've always found therapy totally fucking useless, but then again I never really had anything worth going to therapy about before. It's a thought.

Poaching

I am stealing this meme verbatim from Badger, who got it from Whump. It's an invented memory meme.

Invent a memory of me and post it in the comments. It can be anything you want, so long as it's something that's never happened. Then post this in your journal so that people can invent memories for you.

4.27.2004

Garden Reverie, and Then a Rant

Had 45 minutes between picking up Elise for Leelo's Tuesday facilitated playgroup, and taking her back home again. Decided to spend it in my garden.

Mostly, my garden is a fairly moth-eaten looking place. It's too big, and my attention span is too short. Right now, though, it's Spring. We're coming off the rainy season, and there hasn't been enough prolonged heat and dryness to turn everything to brown kindling. The deer aren't that hungry yet. It looks kind of nice. Maybe I'll post pictures, later.

One of my favorite corners is the small herb garden, full of several different kinds and low-lying colors of thyme, sage, miniature lavender, fennel, and chamomile. You need only kneel on the wooly thyme and sweep your arms around to be wafted away on a heavenly cloud of scent. If you don't have allergies, that is.

Also decided to try to grow bronze fennel and sweet marjoram from seed. I haven't been able to find the fennel seedlings--my local nursery buddy says it's because silly Sunsset Magazine recently ran an article on colored fennels. We'll see how it goes. I don't consider myself to have a black thumb any longer--it's more khaki-colored now--so I figure I've got a 50% chance of success.

All this gardening mellowness was a welcome contrast to yesterday's park playdate hell. Leelo was a wild boy, which means I had to run around after him the whole time and didn't have many opportunities to chat with my friends.

The main problem was that a baby playgroup was taking place in the sand/water area. All Leelo wanted to do was jump and splash in the puddles--and if any babies got in his way, he was more than happy to give them a hip-check. I kept trying to redirect him to the play structures, but he kept sneaking around and running back to the water. Finally, I yelled at him and told him that the water was all done, and stayed glued to him as he climbed and swung and otherwise did standard little boy play. As long as he could see me, he didn't try to escape. Then the babies all left. Phew. I asked him if he wanted to play in the water, and he said "Play in the water?" and sped off to the puddles without waiting for a reply. And had a good old time. Still, exhausting.

I have also completely had it with moms who take their kids to the park only to ignore them. Partly this is because I am jealous--I never, ever get to take my eyes off Leelo--but also because, well gosh, I think that parenting involves a certain level of responsibility.

For instance, if you know that your little girl tends to beat on other children when she's tired and cranky, it is not okay for you to bring her to the park and then, after she beats on children who may or may not be mine, explain that your child is doing so because she is tired and cranky. Take her the fuck home! I know you wanted to see your friends, but sometimes you have to shuffle your priorities, and your wants take a backseat.

And don't even think I am talking about sacrificing one's identity on the altar of motherhood. That kind of martyrdom does no one any good. I am talking about mothers completely ignoring their children's needs when they conflict with their own. You can always see your friends later, but your daughter needs to go home and chill out, right now. Or, perhaps you can arrange yourself so that you can see your daughter while you are talking to your friends. M'kay?

Also, the next time Ms. O'Hara lets her boys bring PVC-pipe "swords" to the park, I am having a word with her.

It just isn't much fun for me to go to the park any more. Sigh.

Iz was my sunny spot for the afternoon. She had a marvelous time despite being smacked around. She particularly enjoyed being a worker on Eliz's sand construction/demolition crew. Then, when we got home, she pointed out to me that our potted hydrangea is finally sporting tiny flower buds. That got me to smile.

4.26.2004

More Autism News, Via Wampum

The good folks at Wampum have compiled an article on three interesting developments in autism research: gene identification, fetal hormone levels, and the previously mentioned Vitamin A connection. Check it out.

4.25.2004

Justified Unease?

Yesterday as I was half-assedly helping celebrate my friend Wombat's birthday, he told me that he's been reading my blog. My reaction: blank stare. Huh? He has never once commented.

Seymour says I've no right to feel odd about a friend reading a public blog without commenting. It's public. I know, I know. But it made me feel like my fly had been unzipped for hours and no one had told me. I know I'm being stupid.

Regardless, if you know me in real life and you are reading this and have never commented, please do so now or I will never forgive you.

Very much enjoyed the rest of the party, trying to figure out if one of his friends knows MB's spouse (answer: "Do you know how many engineers work at our company?"), gorging shamelessly on Wombat's home-cooked Indian delicacies, and checking out honeymoon photos from Australia, which, of course, included many photos of actual wombats looking cuddly.

As always in these situations (W. and Co. are geeks of a much higher order than I, similar to Badger and Rook) felt totally unworthy. Must make an effort to see them more often. Sigh.

Leelo and Iz on a Hot Sunday

It was my turn to work in the church nursery today, so I got to see Leelo express his affection for Zee, a playmate, by boxing her ears. Niiiice. The childcare staff adores Leelo, though, and they all really make an effort with him. Bonus: they didn't kick him out!

We decided to reintroduce soy today, via Vegggie Booty, which used to be his favorite snack. I was worried that he might reject it after not having had it for so long, but no fear--he hoovered it up and then begged for more kale and spinach goodness. I think it tastes like hamster food, but am grateful that he eats it.

He is still completely fucking nuts. His verbal responses to others are mushy and sporadic. We put him to bed 45 minutes ago, yet he's still throwing a one-man party in his room as I write, cackling and jumping and banging and running out the door just to hear me say "Leelo, go to bed!" Which he does, for 15 seconds. WTF.

---

I don't know how most kids ask their parents about sex, but Iz's query this afternoon was "Mommy, how do humans mate?" Thankfully she distracted herself before I stopped sputtering, saying she was going to look it up in her dictionary. But then she got sidelined in K, at a knots diagram. Whew. I'm going to read that talking to kids about sex book tonight.

4.24.2004

Vaccines, Again

Also, I should be clear in that I mean mercury and/or vaccines. It could be either. It could be both. It could be neither.

The root of the autism epidemic could also be environmental or food-borne mercury (you can bet your ass that it's been a long time since I've eaten fish). Or, as Seymour remarked last night, the addition of folic acid to our foodstuffs, making previously non-viable pregnancies neurologically stable. A budding conspiracist could go wacky with the theories.

Here are a couple of articles for you to ponder:
Mercury causes Autism: Pro
Mercury causes Autism: Con (Thanks, Liz)

Eesh. This was supposed to be a non-blogging day!

Vaccines

I'm reposting something I wrote in the comments, as I've gotten a lot of reactions to my rant about the irresponsibility of ABC News re: mercury, vaccines, and autism.

I am not against vaccines. I am against news agencies patting their viewers on the heads and telling them not to worry when in fact they should be telling them to do research and then decide for themselves.

Mercury and vaccinations have not been proven or disproven as catalysts for autism, in my opinion. However, were I ever to again be in charge of an infant's health, here is what I'd do:

-No vaccines in the first year to eighteen months.
-Possibly no Whooping Cough vaccine ever.
-No multi-dose vaccines. Single vaccinations only (e.g., Measles, then Mumps, then Rubella).
-Verify that each vial contains no Thimerasol (mercury preservative).
-No more than one vaccine per month.

I am not sure if this ideal is even feasible, since I've not tried it out personally. I know it's possible in the U.K., but you have to fight for it.

Following this path also means that the child will be kept out of most daycare or infant classes until vaccine requirements are met. Not an easy choice to make, especially for working parents.

I would enjoy hearing others' takes on this matter.

4.23.2004

This Is My Only Journal, That's Why This Entry Is Only of Interest to Me

Leelo always seems to come back to earth after a good, long run around at a park with Leelo-friendly playsets (lots of climbing structures and bouncy bridges). Nice to see you again, little guy!

After we got home terribly late because Daylight Saving Time is here and who ever would have guessed it was past 7 P.M., he had some great language: Spontaneously asking Seymour to play "Big Eye," saying "Daddy...is Seymour!" "[I am] Drinking water." "Go in the water?" (Oooh, that'd be the hot tub, Badger. You might want to discourage his interest.)

Iz had a great time in her drama class. I however almost fainted from the shock of seeing not one but two of my least favorite parents ever, hovering nearby: Chemically Imbalanced J (former parasite to Jo), and Dragon Lady S (she who disparages certain public schools to parents whose children attend said schools, oblivious to the fact that caring parents still do send their kids to public school; also she who got pissed off when I declined to recreate Iz's birthday party for her daughter's special day--she offered me MONEY, what the fuck was my problem?).

Thankfully Nora, next-door neighbor and mother or Tea, was also there. I love her. She always has the best stories to tell, and doesn't mind a bit of nasty gossip.

Iz, in an act that shows she may be picking up this kindness thing after all, announced that she wanted to do TV Turn Off Week in solidarity with her cousin Danielle, because it would be "only fair." She was also inspired by an episode of The Tick, which ended with The Human Ton's puppet Handy yelling "C'mon, Kids! Go read a book!" (and which led to a discussion of how evildoers do on occasion speak truths).

She changed her mind as soon as we got home, but I'm holding her to it, because we don't break our promises, and because "it wouldn't be fair."

Of course, the moratorium will only be in effect when she is both home and awake.

Whirlywind Grab Bag

My favorite local radio station, KCEA, never ceases to delight when they go trawling for archived oddities (their occasional Lawrence Welk benders are less delightful). Today's head-cocker was a strings-and-tinkly xylophone version of What's New Pussycat. Occasional vocals were supplied by an Yma Sumac sound-alike who dropped in for bits of the chorus. Lots of fun.

If you've never seen What's New Pussycat, shame on you. It's got Tom Jones singing the theme song, Peter O'Toole at his most luscious, Woody Allen at his most tolerable, Peter Sellers, Romy Schnieder, Paula Prentiss, Capucine, Ursula Andress, and a supporting cast of sexy red heads...what are you waiting for?

Other things going on today:

Despite dual alarm clocks, both Seymour and I slept in past 8 A.M. this morning. Iz's school starts at 9 A.M., Leelo's speech therapy (10 miles in the other direction) is at 9:30. Made it somehow, thanks to Seymour who helped even though it made him late for work.

MB came and visited while I sat in the speech therapist's lobby. Rah!

Came home from Leelo's speech therapy session to find a voice mail from my friend the children's TV producer. She has a break between projects and is damned if she isn't going to whup some writing out of me during the next few weeks. She expects me to return the favor. Shit.

Iz's drama class starts tonight. This could be either a very good or a very bad thing.

Leelo continues to be remote, unreachable, and loopy. I have no fucking idea why, but he's not getting away with it. I'm going to be on his little butt all day.

ABA Therapy Is Nasty and Brutish, but You Can Get Your Kids Vaccinated!

Watched that autism special on ABC last night, the one about the couple with three (3!) autistic boys. I vascillated between choking up with tears, and wanting to gouge out the eyes of the insipid reporter. "Isn't it hard?" "Don't you want to give up sometimes?" "Can you rip out your hearts for us and place them on the table so we can really get our viewers' emotions revving?"

Also, while they did a halfway decent job in conveying that ABA therapy is a proven beneficial treatment for autistic children, they of course had to inject an element of fear about its "harshness" and "rigidity."

And, most maddeningly, in discussing the potential causes of autism, they said "It was suspected that mercury in vaccines played a role, but now doctors don't think this is so." What the fuck? Of course the medical establishment is denying this--but the subject is far from closed. Now millions of children are going to go ahead and get vaccines without question, without research, without thinking, because ABC News said it is okay! As my friend MB said this morning, if it turns out that mercury or vaccines are the cause, there's going to be hell to pay.

Enough huffing. I feel for those parents. I saw a lot of Leelo in the kids' behavior. And I was encouraged by the progress they've obviously made. They are doing the right thing, and so are we.

4.22.2004

Buy My Crap, Yet Again!

Finally got around to making the t-shirts for the participants in Leelo's facilitated playgroups. But wait! You can have one, too!

Here is a larger version of the image on the t-shirt.

The Wages of Sloth

That wacky lady walking down the street in the goofy purple tie-dye dress with the multi-colored dolphin socks? That would be me, doing penance for having put the laudry off for far too long. And yes, this is my last pair of clean underwear, thanks for asking.

Fascinating Autism News

Of course we're all just waiting for that magic pill, but I do find this article on the link between autism symptoms and visual disturbances compelling.

Also, Seymour's dad has night blindness. Hmm.

4.21.2004

Brutal

Today was not an easy day to be Leelo's mom. Or dad.

The boy is in gibbering mode again. He'll chat and chat and chat and chat, but it's not intelligible and he won't acknowledge us unless we make heroic efforts to break through. He laughs maniacally. He runs around in pointless circles. He only wants to play with two blocks. His pronunciation of what language he has is starting to get muddy.

All these behaviors were peaking today. Seymour is worried about it, too. He says that this is not behavior he's ever seen described in autism literature, and that to him it seems more deranged than autistic. To me it seems like another form of remoteness, another form of stimming.

This specific behavior set seems to come in waves, but there are no explicable patterns, even with our maniacal tracking of changes in his supplements and diet. The only thing I can possibly think of is that he's getting too much magnesium (as that powder goes in his toast, so he always gets a full dose), without Vitamin B6 to balance it (he's been refusing his supplement cocktails outright for the past few days).

He is also becoming increasingly difficult to "handle." I was holding him in my lap as Iz and her friends played on the lawn after school. He got irritated about being restrained, and, instead of saying "Let me go" or "All done," bucked back and smashed the bridge of my nose with his skull. That was enough to bring tears of pain, but then once those got going, the sobs I'd been holding in all day broke through, too. Being his mom is hard. It's just fucking hard.

Anyhow, I don't blame him for wanting to go run around with the other kids, but I just can't let him unless I shadow him completely. He has no sense and tends to make a beeline for the adjacent busy parking lot. Plus my shadowing of him disrupts the other kids' playing. But this is one of Iz's favorite times of the week. Sigh. No easy solution.

From there it was on to his Bio5et appointment (accupressure for food sensitivities, etc.). Leelo was so difficult, so very non-compliant--hitting himself, howling, hitting me, pulling my hair, scratching my face, bucking, squirming--that I almost started wailing in there, too. If Iz hadn't been sitting next to me the whole time, I just might have.

Thankfully Seymour, saint that he is, agreed to take on the kids for the evening so I could go out. Which I did. To a wonderful local Mexican joint (Nikkko's) where they make your horchata fresh when you order it. And then I saw a silly movie. And then I came home and saw Angel, which totally rocked. So now I'm in a better mood. Sort of.

It's not as though everything that happened today was horrible. Iz kept me amused by telling me about the "floating elbows" and "floating feet" she was making (same technique as making a floating finger). She also showed me how to make regular and square knots, which she of course learned from Badger's How To Do Everything book.

There was good Leelo news, too. Therapist L keeps telling me how excellent his spontaneous play is during his breaks--actual pushing of cars and making car noises, etc. And he ate carrots today! Not that he knows--they were grated into his pancakes--but still. Carrots. That's bonafide vegetable material.

Also, his spontaneous greetings can be excellent, for some reason especially with cafe owners Minna and Rob--they always get the full "Hi + name" that we have to cajole out of him otherwise. But, Minna and Rob have powers beyond those of mere mortals. Minna could tell just by looking at me that I was completely whacked out today--she said she could see my aura arcing crazily over my head.

I am hoping for a happy tomorrow.

This Glass of Piss Is Half Full

The owner of Asshole Chow dog showed up on my doorstep, apologizing profusely and promising to keep the dog in check. He even offered up his sixteen-year-old daughter as a babysitter--that can't be bad. Really, he was a nice man with a cunning escape artist dog. I now have a number to call if A.C. ever shows up again. Thank you, neighborhood grapevine.


Wimp

What makes you cry? Starving children? Funding cuts for Special Needs students? Injured veterans? Soulless Republicans? Seal clubbing?

Here is what makes me cry: When my Wednesday Night babysitter has to cancel two weeks in a row.

Super Ficial!

I think I would be enjoying The 5tory of O more if all the submissives weren't female and all the dominants weren't male. I know this is only the lamest and least penetrating (ahem) reading of the book, but the arrangement irks me nonetheless. Doesn't mean I'm not fascinated.

4.20.2004

Pissy Neighborhood Notes

If you let your great big Chow-looking dog run through my back yard and piss all over my kids' swingset and toys one more time, that fucking mutt is going to have a one-way ticket to the pokey. I won't tell you, because I don't know who the hell you are. However, as I do not own a dog, I feel entitled to a dog-piss-free back yard.

If you don't want to pony up for your part of the falling-down fence that separates our backyards, don't tell me that you can't do it because you're broke. Surely, everyone's circumstances are unique, but you live in a honking big brand new house, send your kids to private school, have a membership in the local country club (verified by my cousin who works there), and your wife is driving a high-end SUV so new it doesn't even have license plates. And don't you even dare assume that we can foot the whole bill because Leelo has "all those nannies." How about if you instead say that now is not a good time for you, or maybe you can just bite me, you fuckwad. Asshole.

Corrections

Keep forgetting to tell you local folks: You must go see Barak's incredible show at my favorite SF coffeehouse, Que Tal. When it opens in May, that is. For now just enjoy the digital version. Those quotations are temporary tattoos! How cool is that?

Also, somehow I blanked on putting the inimitable Eve P. in my compulsive links list to the left. I think this is because almost everyone I link to, links to her too, which means it was never difficult to find her. Plus, I am lazy. No more!

4.19.2004

Leelo, Autism Stories

Leelo's taken to smacking himself on the head when he gets frustrated. The Therapists are on top of it, but Seymour and I are freaking a bit. Until we reminded ourselves that he tends to go through two week phases with each new annoying stereotypical behavior before he loses them. We freaked out about teeth grinding, shirt-sucking, and screaming when people eat, too, and those behaviors are all gone. I will try to keep my worries simmering on low.

Supervisor Andil was over today as Supervisor M is out of town. Andil is plugged into everything there is to know about autism, and always has stories to share. She is such a wonderful person and an invaluable resource. Although 12 weeks along with her second child, she is somehow managing to work crazy, intense hours while mothering an almost-one year old and battling intense morning sickness. She makes me feel like the lump that I am.

I gave her a copy of Leelo's Stanfford Autism Clinic report, and she was glad to hear that we'd had such a positive experience there. She told us several stories about another local diagnosing clinic whose director cannot be named but whose initials are B.S., and her lack of bedside manner--her in fact outright horrible rudeness to emotionally fragile parents of autistic children. I hope that B.S. bitch burns in hell, or at least sticks to writing her books rather than interacting with clients.

Therapist T came by to meet Andil, and told her about the state of autism care in Israel, where T is from. Basically there is no ABA training available for potential tutors--if you want to get it, you have to come here.

Andil had lots to say about Stateside difficulties in getting ABA therapy, especially in geographically remote or need-based situations. She says there are almost no grants to help out ABA clinics--families have to either wait until their children are three years old and qualify for assistance, or hope that they live somewhere with an excellent regional center/Early Start program.

She also told us that some private ABA clinics refuse to take children who function below a certain level as it fucks up their success rates. If that's not warped I don't know what is. Lots of backstory about Lovaaas and those famous initial 47% recovery rate trials, too, ooh yeah.

The stories ended on an odd coda--for some reason, the not-quite-local town of Holllister has an incredibly high autism rate. And almost no services.

The end of this day finds me very grateful to have our boy, our location, and our resources. Very very grateful. Very very.

Two-Way Bitchslap

"Mommy, why do we only have two cats? Two is not enough."

"Well, sweetie, Daddy thinks that two cats is two too much."

"Mommy, it's 'two too many.' We're talking about numbers, not amounts."

Peals of laughter from everyone, but, sigh. Ooh yeah, people used to pay me lots of money to edit their copy and write their style guides, and now I'm getting the grammatical backhand from a five-year-old. Sigh.

Then it was off to school, where I was informed by the director that our girl is starting to be an uppity little thing "with children other than Merlin and Moomin." Lots of proclamations of her overall supremacy, putdowns of those without her apparent superpowers. FUCK. I had no idea she was needling Moomin (she and Merlin have been torturing each other for years).

So, I believe this will be Kindness Month. I will get her to keep a kindness journal. We will emphasize that we are kind to others not because we want to be recognized for our efforts, but because that is how we would want to be treated in return. There will be rewards for being kind when doing so means struggling. And, most importantly, this grouchy, short-tempered mom will be modeling the kind of behavior she expects from her kids.

Any suggestions are also welcome.

4.18.2004

Ball of Waaaaaah

What is it going to take to snap me out of this funk?

Absolutely hated being at this afternoon's birthday party chaos/insane-a-thon attended by Iz's school in its entirety and during which all Leelo wanted to do was run and drown himself in the back yard fountain or boing in the bounce house that was always full of really big boys doing Stone Cold Steve Austin wrestling moves. Blessings on Clyde once more for taking Leelo on a run around the yard so I could man Iz for a bit, and then on Ep for discreetly minding Iz the rest of the time.

Finally decided to be honest after the fifth or sixth person asked me when Leelo was going to be attending the school and told her we decided against it because Leelo is autistic...turns out she is a special ed teacher and was fascinated and we had a good discussion.

But still, it was depressing, being around all those Leelo-aged boys and seeing how they played and how he didn't.

I've been listening to a bunch of sappy Satie, Pavanne, etc. Listening to Faure's Sicilienne almost makes me cry, as I remember the alchemical joy of playing it myself...which I could do if I replied to the flute teacher and scheduled the lessons for which I have already paid.

My inboxes are overfull with touching and welcome email from friends and well-wishers (Hi, Kim) alike, yet I can't muster up the energy to reply and yet still get angry when out of the 200 messages received this weekend, only one was really for me.

I miss my friends and yet I don't really want to be around anyone.

My head is brimming with ideas of books to write and illustrate for Leelo--he adores anything with short choppy rhymes and clear pictures. But then I realize that I never finish anything, and in fact have three other uncompleted book projects idling since January (which reminds me, I've done another run of Super Ji11 coloring books, just in case anyone didn't get one or wants another).



However I am very proud of Seymour for finishing his race today, especially after he realized that everyone else was riding a suspension bike because the trail warranted it. He is just pleased that he didn't come in last. I told him that he should consider this, his first race, to be like the first waffle in a batch. That one's always fucked up, but then you've got perfect waffley goodness from there on out.

Blog Down!

WTF? Seems like the Blogger gnomes that were plaguing our friends in The Bahamas have taken up residence on this URL too. I can post, but not view. Funky. Let me know if you can see this.

Oh, wait, it's just FireFox. The URL is fine in IE. Which is not fine by me, but is a temporary workaround.

4.17.2004

Weekend Schedule Addendum

Firstly, I should make it clear that I am delighted beyond words to get to spend so much of this weekend in the company of Seymour's parents, grandmother, and other relatives. They are good folks. That part got left out of the previously whiny scheduling post. I'm just still tired from last week's vacation.

Secondly, I want to express my deepest thanks to and affections for Ep and Clyde, who took on Iz for the nearly five hours it took the bridal shower to fructify. Our girl got to see ladybug larvae, and Clyde taught her how to play cricket. All apparently much more fun than anything she expects us to be able to come up with--she sobbed like a wounded ghost when we arrived to take her away.

In other news, Seymour and I had a detailed discussion before he left. It mostly concerned the best way to keep me from biting his head off--praying mantis-style--should he come home from an event or trip later than I expect him to. This excellent new preemptive method consists of 1) giving me a reasonable ETA and 2) If the ETA turns sour for whatever reason, calling me as soon as this is discovered, rather than three minutes before the expected arrival.

Reason being that I get totally psychotic if I think he's flaking on me. He can go away for as long as he wants, if he returns to relieve me on time. However, if he's tardy, I begin shrieking and clacking my talons, and he rarely gets away unscathed.

Truly, it's not his fault that he inhabits his own space-time warp bubble, and has in the past considered ETAs to be soft estimates, whereas I considered them etched in stone. We understand each other now. And he has an open ticket for tomorrow, as requested. I'll see him when I see him. As long as I know that ahead of time, it's totally fine.

I hope he kicks ass in his race tomorrow morning.

4.16.2004

Interesting Autism News

Autism Gene Discovered

This Weekend's Schedule

I am still mewly and woozy and wiped from two weeks' worth of low-grade illness. As a result, I am less than enthusiastic about our plans for the next three days:

TONIGHT
Merlin to come over to keep Iz company with Leelo and C the world's most fabulous babysitter, while Seymour and I have dinner with Seymour's folks and grandmother. We will give them our beautiful new family portrait (Thanks, Barak!). I will probably find everything on the menu unappetizing.

SATURDAY
Brunchtime bridal shower for Seymour's cousin's fiancee. I will be sequestered in the event room with "the girls" and will know no one but Seymour's mom, who, as the host, will be a mite busy. I'm sure there will be a lot of wine, though, and that always greases the social skids for me.

Seymour will hang out in the bar with "the boys" and also our kids, because I've not been able to find babysitting. Not surprising, since we only ever use one babysitter, and she does on occasion have other things to do besides run after our children.

After the shower, Seymour departs for an overnight trip to Monterey and his first ever mountain bike race. Go Seymour!

The rest of us depart to Seymour's aunt's house for h'ors d'oeuvres and frantic child watching, as Auntie J has a legendary crystal miniatures collection.

I go home, collapse, and consider not giving the children a bath. Oh, wait, I have to, because...

SUNDAY
Early brunch with Seymour's folks and grandmother. Followed directly by early afternoon birthday party for one of Iz's classmates. Ep offered to take Iz but I am such a nosy git that I must go see their big new fabulous house for myself. Hope they don't mind Leelo tagging along and destroying everything in his path.

Get home late afternoon, collapse, let kids watch as many videos and DVDs as they want, and pray that Seymour comes home soon.

Undressing

We are working hard with Leelo to perfect the art of dressing/undressing in preparation for toilet training (sorry, Eve P., toilet learning...I wish you'd turn your comments back on). I assured Supervisor M that the problem is one of motivation rather than ability. I'm not sure she believed me.

Well, then, she should have been here last night when we did our final check on the kids before going to bed--as the door opened and the hall light spilled across the room, it revealed Leelo's angelic, chubby, naked bottom sticking up in the air (he, like his sister, sleeps in classic "stinkbug" pose). He'd apparently had enough of jammie pants and undergarments, and had removed them without even waking up.

4.15.2004

Phoenix: Revised Opinion

I am still angry with Phoenix for having swallowed up two of our very best friends, Floyd and The Little Flower (TLF). However, after last week's child-free sojourn there I am now willing to admit that the place does have its charms, and will no longer refer to it via a string of prefacing expletives.

Of course, its two main charms are: 1) TLF and 2) Floyd. I will never stop missing them. They are soul buddies on the wavelength of two other friends who ran across the country carrying big chunks of my heart--Dee and Giddy. It doesn't matter how long it's been since I've seen any of them; we drop right back into the conversation as though there were no separating months or miles. Which is good as TLF and I spent seven hours waiting in the ER for a minor injection that I should have gotten before I left home, and we were never bored--we had each other! Fade to sunset.

So. Anyhow. Phoenix. It has cool native botanical gardens and they were all abloom. So beautiful I almost fainted. It has SoCal style Mexican food (drool, gurgle). It has The Phoenici@n, where TLF and I got all stupid-girly with the facials and crap, and got kicked out of the Meditation Chamber for chortling too loudly. It has The Store That Must Not Be Named but which is based in The Netherlands, where I got Leelo the cutest damn shark shorts ever (although, as Iz pointed out, try to say "shark shorts" five times, fast. Ouch, that was a jaw muscle). It has grapefruits popping off the trees all over town. Ahhh, fresh grapefruit juice. These are all things that, with the brood in tow, I'd not noticed before.

I suppose we can go back.

Grunt, Snort

Leelo up ALL NIGHT due to an unfortunate GI bug. Seymour took the 2 to 3:30 shift including the really nasty diaper changing and full-body wipe down, then he headed for the couch and I wrangled the little bugger until 5 A.M. Then the boy needed a diaper change at 6:30. Iz of course slept through it all, even though she'd at some point crept into our bed (where all these shenanigans took place). Leelo, Iz, and I all slept through my and Seymour's dual alarms--no one rose until almost 9 A.M! Then, panic. So, I will be late for coffee. But I'll be there! Don't leave!

4.14.2004

All About Leelo and Iz

Oh, those kiddlings. Too funny. Too cute. Maddening. Crazy-making. And, finally, asleep--which is when we love them the most.

Leelo is, as always, a study in dual pathways. One fork leads to cheering cognitive leaps, language, and affection. The other to frustratingly intangible roadblocks.

Happy examples: He's really been more of the world lately, trying to figure out things such as what happens if I twist this dial, oh, wait, my toy shark flaps his fins! Holy shit! Cause and effect--how come no one told me about this? Let's see what effect results from tossing my sister's favorite books down the stairs. My mom put bars on my fort to prevent me from trying additional death-defying acrobatics--but I bet I can climb around them! What happens if I push this plastic slide underneath the trapeze bar like my sister and her friends do--hey, I can climb on the trapeze bar and give my mom another heart attack!

His language has been surprising. "Want to sit on the couch with Mommy" is the ring-a-ding-dinger for today, expressively. Also today, he pointed at a poster in our pediatrician's office and declared "balloons!" Spontaneous pointing and declaring are rare, rare, count-them-on-one-hand instances.

Receptively (responding to language), he's finally started listening to us when we yell at him to stop running away and come back. Praise be--he is one fast little fucker, and I have nightmares about him getting away in crowded malls, etc. He's really getting two-step directions such as "pick up your diaper and put it in the trash." Hopefully soon we'll be able to turn this into "Go get Mommy a beer from the fridge and bring it over to me on the couch."

He continues to be an affectionate little sweetums. Loves to engage in any sort of hide-and-go-seeky, tickly, roughhousing sort of deal. Great peals of laughter, requests for more of the same. Big hugs, lots and lots and lots and lots of kisses. Sometimes his enthusiasm is a bit pain-inducing, but overall we're just grateful that he loves to show us how much he loves us.

Bad examples: He still refuses to eat most anything we put in front of him. His Bi0Set practicioner has cleared him to go back on dairy and legumes, but I think we'll wait until this cold (two weeks and still going strong) finally goes away. Although I am finally getting hep to that whole "grate it and bake it in" school of culinary subterfuge. Today he had [apple] pancakes [made with eggs], and was none the wiser about ingesting two foods he usually throws on the floor.

Seymour and I both think he's lapsing more frequently into crazy gibbering little nutball mode. He can be so remote. He almost never stops chattering--especially when he's at home, but increasingly wherever we are if there are insufficient distractions. He's "passing" less often. We've had so many fucking consults with so many fucking experts, but I still don't think we've met anyone who knows fuck-all about what this behavior of his is all about. The Stanfford folks think it will go away eventually. Fine, but how do we deal with it NOW?

His language and responsiveness are still so limited. My friend JM brought her 14-month old Annah over on Monday, and my heart sank in realizing that a Annah knows and responds to far more social cues than our boy does. She engages. She waves. She responds appropriately. And she doesn't even talk. He doesn't know what a sentence as simple as "Do you want that?" means without considerable physical prompts.

And, not in any way related to his condition, his D'Artagnan duck feet mean that the only brown velcro boots in the whole store that fit him have lame-ass little flashing lights all over them. Gaaaaah!

I'll just give a list of Iz bits, as I'm tired and it's getting late and this is getting long. It's a brag-fest; you don't have to read it.

-She's really enjoying crossword puzzles. Don't even try to help her.

-Today she got her first-ever nightgown. I'd forgotten that girls can wear such items, as I favor man-jammies myself. She looks like Wendy, and so is floating on a cloud of pure joy.

-She got really frustrated watching me try to peel a hard-boiled egg yesterday (perhaps the second one I've ever peeled). "Mommy, you need to put in on a spoon and run it under warm water first! Didn't you read that How To Do Everything book that Badger loaned me?"

-She charmed the pants off her pediatrician today, especially in asking him about the relative sizes of red and white blood cells. He even got one of his medical textbooks so she could see what they look like "without an microscope." She got extra points and a high five from her mom in knowing that blood cells are made "in the middle of bones." Although her dad would like to dock those points for her then telling Dr. G that "my dad likes to suck the middle out of bones when he's eating."

-She's been debating her teacher over the fact that glue has historically been made from casein (a milk protein) and that that is why Elmer's glue has a bovine logo even though it's not made from milk anymore.

-It warmed the cockles of my Anglophilic little heart to hear her exclaim, after a certain undisclosed frustration, "Oh, bother!"

She is an absolute delight. As is her brother. I want time to slow down so we can enjoy more of them, exactly the way they are right now.

But, instead, to bed. Seymour's stomach flu has ceded this territory to Leelo's cold. ("Mommy, you've been sick since before we drove to L.A.") Illness combined with having given up coffee cold turkey two weeks ago (only one medicinal lapse on the road trip, I am STRONG) means my soft, sweet bed is whispering to me much earlier these days.

Rhogam and Thimerasol

As a late entry for whoever just Googled that phrase to get here, and as today's information bite for the rest of you drive-by viewers (I know you're there, sneaky pusses, I have Sitemeter), you can now get Rhogam in single-shot, preservative-free doses. If a medical professional tells you otherwise, they are lazy, lying, or misinformed.

4.13.2004

The Uniboob

Those of you who shlep around a disproportionately oversized pair of knockers, who can't imagine going five steps away from your bed without a bra, who fantasize about getting those fuckers whittled down to lovely little B or C cups, will get what I'm saying.

I resent the bras I have to wear. They are enormous. They are ugly. They never, ever come with fewer than three hooks in the back, or elegant straps. They are not available at Target or Victwhoria's Secret, no sir. These military-strength garments require a serious cash investment. They are rarely comfortable. The designers seem to have some sort of sick competition going on regarding how many different shapes they can mold the Tits of America into, which means that if you own several different types you may get confused people asking you if you've lost weight or had surgery or what have you all the time. It sucks.

Sometimes I get sick of all the cantilevering and buttressing and strapping, the pinching and gouging and erupting. At times like these--times like now--I toss out all the load-bearing gear, and pull on the old sports bra. Aaaaahhhhh. So comfy, so squishy, the brassiere equivalent of those favorite old sweats. So what if I end up with a shapeless uniboob--the only person besides me who cares about my girls' appearance already knows what they look like naked and sproinging away. A little bit of camouflage is not going to put him off. Especially when it makes me so happy.

Uniboob, I salute you. You are my comfort and my solace. You set me free.

Crying

There is something about Iz's crying that makes Leelo lose it.

This didn't used to be such a big issue, as Iz used to be a stoic. Lately, however, she's been prone to big sobbing fits whenever disappointment strikes. Which, maybe because she's five, is often.

Here's what should happen, ideally. Iz starts crying. I take her out of Leelo's earshot, and remind her, as calmly and gently as I can, that not getting to watch Tiny Planets when her daily video quota has already been met does not merit this kind of reaction. No one has died and she has no visible wounds. If she insists on wailing anyhow, I tell her I'll be in the other room and she can come get me when she's done.

Here's what usually happens, instead. Iz starts crying. Leelo notices and starts wailing, getting increasingly upset. Something tells him that if he start smacking his sister, she might stop and then he won't have to be so agitated. If I don't invervene before this happens, Iz gets walloped and her crying becomes epic. Leelo then becomes furious and hysterical. I consider dual stasis chambers for my children, and try very hard not to start weeping myself.

Eventually, and if I can keep them apart long enough, I can convince Iz that if she takes a big breath, smiles, and tells Leelo that she's okay, he'll stop being so upset. Thankfully she's now old enough to grok this concept, and it usually works. The children resume non-injurious playing. I reach for the bottle of Maker's Mark.

Leelo doesn't do this around any other crying child. I guess that's a good thing.

4.12.2004

Just in Case...

...you were wondering what Leelo looks like. Actually, he looks more like this.

Here's Iz. How she looked in October, anyhow. She's holding Gandalf's staff by request.

Two Related Thoughts

Thank you Jo for helping us right wrongness. Even if I'm a week late catching up on everything. And fuck you, Anti-Semitic, hate-mongering Google bombers. Jew Jew Jew Jew Jew. There. Pick it up and carry it on.

Best bumpersticker seen on extended road trip:
Jesus Loves You.
Everyone Else Thinks You're an Asshole.

Things I Learned This Week

-You can keep a five-year-old distracted indefinitely by suggesting that she play Rock Scissors Paper against herself. "Mommy! The left hand won again!"

-There are still places in California where you can see hills violently ablaze with poppies, in the original Golden State style.

-When vacationing with a small autistic child, you've got to have a designated family sanctuary for rest and retreat. If you're not staying in such a place, you must relocate to such a place.

-To my great surprise, my kids were not the only ones in the world on Spring Break this past week. So, I spaced on the concept that going to Sea World was a really bad idea. We ended up eating churros for lunch, because the lines at all other food concessions (hell, the lines for everything) were two hours long.

-Many of the I-5 highway overpasses in Kern County are colonized by swallows. Clouds of them.

-If you've got to go to an ER for something as minor as a tetanus shot, go to an ER in the suburbs. Do not go to the urban trauma center where they take all the gunshot wounds and car crash victims. Even if all of Phoenix looks like a suburb to you. You will wait at least seven hours and will miss both lunch and dinner.

-The drive from L.A. to Phoenix is not really that long, if you are the passenger and sleep the whole time.

-C-section newborns are really cute. No squishing or mashing, no cone heads. So says the proud new auntie.

-However if said newborn is the fifth or sixth grandchild, he will not spend much time in that hallowed New Baby limelight, surrounded by hushed voices and adoring relatives. He will get to hang out and nurse with his mom on the couch while his dad watches baseball and everyone else carries on and checks in occasionally to reconfirm his cuteness.

-Do not let your brother monitor what your children watch. Otherwise you will be subjected to unlimited variations on "But Uncle JD said I could watch The Sixth Sense!"

-Said brother JD the pilot is, however, a really good, mellow new dad.

-The Mexican food in So Cal so completely kicks ass over the same-named food here. I am already longing for rolled tacos and a B&C burrito (with no fucking rice--bleah!).

-I love my house. I love being home. I love my bed. I love my yard. Given a couple more days of decompression, I might even start loving non-inanimate objects again. I am not leaving for a damn good long time.

4.02.2004

I'm Sure This Comes as a Shock to Jo

Grammar Fuhrer
You are the grammar Fuhrer. All bow to your
authority. You will crush all the inferior
people under the soles of your jackboots, and
any who question your motives will be
eliminated. Your punishment is being the bane
of every other person's existence, because
you're constantly contradicting stupidity.
Everyone will be gunning for you. Your dreams
of a master race of spellers and grammarians
frighten the masses. You must always watch your
back. If only your power could be used for good
instead of evil.


What is your grammar aptitude?
brought to you by Quizilla

Off

Seymour has been gone for two bedtimes. Tomorrow we remaining three drive to Hell Lay and then San Dieggy to meet up with him. I'll be back around Easter.

I don't think the kids are happy to be stuck with solo grouchy mom. Leelo asked for Daddy all morning. Iz said my bedtime story last night sucked (probably because it had a not-too-happy ending about what happens if you give into nagging--your magic powers go away! I am such a sucky mom sometimes--last week she made a breakfast face out of two fried eggs and two pieces of bacon. When she pierced the yolks with her fork, I started yelling "My eyes! My eyes!").

Anyhow. Mostly today has been about frantic packing and erranding, though Iz and I managed to plant some Columbines, Badger and Moomin brought us a bag of horse puckies for our compost bin (and shoveled it, too), and I got to have dinner with my dear favoritest baby cousin (she's 26). She's in town en route to home in Vancouver B.C. after 15 months in Japan, and has showered the kids and me with all sorts of Totoro paraphernalia.

Iz is mad at me for not wanting to get up at dawn so we can chase the sunrise as we drive south. I love her, but fuck that. I'm exhausted.

Quote for the day: "Mommy! I'm well hydrated! My pee-pee is totally clear!"

Leelo was totally looped and largely unreachable today. Depressing. He did do some great interacting with Badger, though, demonstrating how exactly he bonked his head on our concrete driveway last week.

Blessings on Ep for agreeing to feed and water cats, fish, and motley assortments of plants while we're away.

I am losing mental cohesion. Time to hit the sack. Have a great week.

4.01.2004

(Ec)Topical

(On re-read, this makes more sense as a brain dump than a coherent essay. I had a point originally.)

For some reason all the crap I try to keep in the "Danger: Do Not Open" compartment of my brain is sneaking out today. Probably because my partner is not here to abuse/help me vent fumes. Current thought as I wait for Leelo to stop sproinging out of bed and finally go to sleep: Fertility is capricious.

There are a good number of people who never figure this out, who get knocked up just by looking at their partner's dick, who announce their pregnancy as soon as they see the two blue lines on the stick, and who start painting the nursery during the first trimester. They get perfectly happy, healthy babies. They are usually horrible people who don't deserve this kind of good luck, has been my experience. I've been temporarily related to one of them.

I was wide-eyed like this, too. At first. I never thought I'd run into any problems igniting or keeping a pregnancy--hadn't I breezed through a full 8 1/2 months, albeit by accident? What's to worry about?

When Seymour and I got pregnant the first time, I was all blabbity blah blah blah from week four on. It wasn't a planned event, so I was doing a lot of scrambling at work, talking to HR about related benefits, and trying to figure out how I was going to hit simultaneous work and birth deliveries in the Fall. Family was happy. We were shocked but adjusting, and becoming happy.

I'd been having light cramping, but thought nothing of it. For a lot of women, womb expansion means constant twinginess, and I figured that that was what was happening to me.

After a week of me braying to anyone within range, the only family members we hadn't told were my brother and his girlfriend. We wanted and arranged to tell them in person as they had a new infant and the kids were going to be close in age.

They weren't home when we arrived, so we walked downstairs, bought some ice cream, and sat outside their doorway. I remember precisely that blissful moment of sitting on on ratty walkway carpet, watching ice cream melt, and squeezing Seymour's hand.

When they arrived, I whispered to Seymour that I'd rather hit the pot before telling them, and beelined for the bathroom. Where I discovered blood soaking my underwear.

I sobbed and tottered my way from the bathroom into a distraught Seymour's arms, who translated the situation to my brother as best he could. Then they drove me to the nearby ER. A kind nurse tried to decipher what I was hiccuping about, but had a hard time hearing me over the five shouting attendants who were trying to hold down a 300 lb guy on PCP in the next bed. Eventually they declared me a miscarriage and sent me home.

I went back to work, and used the office grapevine to spread my information so I wouldn't have to talk to do-gooder acquaintances who really needed to know why I was so ashen. I went to a follow-up appointment with my OB, who for some reason asked me to get weekly blood tests "just to make sure everything is okay."

In my ignorance, I figured that was that. Until the day two weeks later when my doctor called me at work and told me that she needed me in surgery in three hours because my blood tests showed that I had an ectopic pregnancy. More instant hysteria, this time for the benefit of the entire office.

I had no car (it was my day to drive but I'd locked the keys inside) so a friend drove me to the hospital. Seymour had no car either, so a very kind friend drove him all 25 miles from work. He arrived just in time to hear me giggling punchily over having to ask the surgery prep nurse for forceps to remove various body ornaments.

For some reason those sick fuckers put all OB post-op patients on the labor & delivery floor. Just in case I didn't have a real clear idea of what I'd be missing--bastards. Whatever. I recovered quickly, and we got on with life.

A couple of years later, we started to try for kiddlings for real. I was still partially ignorant--I knew bad things could happen, but I didn't think we'd have any problems getting pregnant. After almost a year, we figured it out, though. A consult with my OB and a subsequent hysterosalpingogram (too fun) showed that the pesky little ectopic situation had effectively shut down fallopian tube #1. I was operating with only one cylinder. Moreover, I should brace myself for more ectopic pregnancies in the future.

Needless to write, the first phases of both Iz and Leelo's pregnancies were emotionally charged. Positive pregnancy tests were insufficient--we had to wait several weeks each time to find out whether the pregnancies were viable. We continue to be grateful for having won the lottery both times. And I now get in the face of anyone who takes their fertility for granted--they can think what they like, but I sure as fuck don't want to listen to them, and I especially don't want anyone who's had a rougher time than me to hear it.

Formal Diagnosis

I just dropped Seymour off at the airport. He is going on a long weekend of man/bike love, with Floyd.

Leelo's formal evaluation report from Stanfford was sitting in our mailbox when I got home. My initial impressions are that it was extremely thorough, and that I'm glad the two psychiatry professionals sat down with us for an hour at the end of the evaluation and told us what their findings meant. That verbal take was much friendlier and optimistic than the cold, dead, diagnostic words in the written report, which doesn't specifically mention that they consider him to be a high-functioning autistic even though that's what they said.

If I hadn't had a prepatory conversation beforehand, and given the bruised mood I'm in, the report could have easily had me tailspinning. As it is, I'm still having a big comfy bowl of cereal and letting the kids rot in front of one of those See How They Grow!!!! videos.

Sing Along!

When I'm being fucked by hormones,
And my brain is a tilt-a-whirl,
Then I scream at my kids and husband,
And despise being a girl.


No apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Routed Out

You just try not to cry as you read the last few entries at This Woman's Work, as Dawn and her family wait out a birthmother's decision. I feel as though someone has jammed a branding iron onto my heart. I can't even imagine the steel it takes to share the blow-by-blow as it happens, as the baby is born, as the hospital stay unfolds, as the decisive hour approaches. Were I Dawn, I would be hunched in the corner, retching and rocking on my heels.

It is also shaming to be exposed to the kind of raw emotions I toyed with so flippantly and ignorantly when I was a birthmom. My situation was never real to me, at a very young age 20, so how could I understand the position of the adoptive parents? Maybe I'll keep the baby. Maybe I won't. But I'll just call you any time I'm thinking about changing my mind, to ensure that you can't sleep at night.

Someday I'll write down my whole story, but not today. I'm more interested in Dawn's now than in my past. If you can spare any good thoughts, or have magic powers that enable you to create real world happy endings, please do do the right thing by her today.

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