Happy New Year!

I predict that the new year will be clearly defined by my descent into insanity. This prediction is based on my parents' intended departure date: tomorrow.

I think I'd be fine if it wasn't for the continuous fucking ant invasions. And Leelo's resuming getting nekkid every time I take my eyes off of him for more than 60 seconds.

Happy New Year to the rest of you, though.


Leelo last night, running up to me and attempting to forcibly eject Mali, who was nursing: "Bye-bye, Baby!" It begins...

Poor Mali has an icky cold, which means lots of loud congested breathing on her part, and breath-holding on mine. I hope this passes quickly. I am not good with sick babies, especially since Leelo was always always sick and always on cold medicine and antibiotics and that's a trigger scenario one reads about quite a bit when cruising the autism boards.

Mali also got her baby acne smack-dab on schedule (it's supposed to erupt at 4-5 weeks). Even with a big old rash, she looks darling. Perhaps I should wash her face one of these days; I've heard that that helps.

I have decided that Iz doesn't have to complete all the daily diarying on top of all the other homework she was assigned over the break. We did as much as we could, given the holidays and new baby and visitors visitors visitors and mini flu epidemic. That will have to be good enough. I refuse to stress her or me out about this, especially since last break's extremely labor-intensive diary was returned to Iz without a single mark--good or bad--on it.

I have also told her that she can read whatever books she wants for the Principal's Reading Club log they sent home with her over the holidays. Because I'm fucked if she's going to get credit for reading a lame-assed Arthur book in Spanish but not for reading Ramona the Pest in English. The reading log, unlike her homework book log, doesn't specify which language the books need to be in.


Mali at One Month

No pictures, please.

This would be Hallmark-goofy if these weren't our actual hands.

Even on hormonal mama-bear overdrive, I have to admit that this is one funny-looking baby--sometimes.

...and a damn cute one other times. She's going to have a nose, that's for certain.

All pictures (c) 2004 Jonathan Mandel.



Remember that Star Trek: TNG episode where the grieving omnipotent alien had, in one instant of anger, obliterated every single member of a hated species using his Q-like brain power? If I had his powers I would most assuredly do the same thing to ants.

I normally have a very high ant tolerance threshold--I used to live in Africa, for chrissakes. However, they have been on constant attack at my house ever since Mali was born and I have HAD IT. It doesn't matter how spic-and-span we keep the kitchen and bathrooms--they swarm these rooms hourly. We can't eat anything without frantic cleaning up beforehand, afterhand, during, and then several times after again. Such a lovely undercurrent to the already-stressful holidays. Really makes those big family dinners extra-special.

Of course, Scabby the cat did her part to keep things jubliant by pissing all over my parents' comforter and bed for the second time during their visit.

And as long as we're discussing things feline: My friend JM came by our place yesterday to try to photograph my parents and all six of their grandkids. I warned him that it would be like herding cats, and I delivered. Utter screaming chaos. We got some good solo shots of Mali, though, as well as some good ones of me with Chet and The Moron Twins. The images are on JM's site at www.jmfotografia.com/dArtagnan (small D, big A).


Silent Night

Flu for everyone except Seymour & Mali (can you say "obsessive hand washing")
+ New baby
+ Holidays
+ My parents and all three of my brothers and their families for said holidays
no posts.

In other news, Mali had her one-month checkup yesterday. The doctor pronounced her strong, healthy, and perfect in every measurable way. At 8 lbs 11 oz, she has gained 1 lb 7 oz since her post-partum dip to 7 lbs 4 oz.

She is still a little beetle, making funny insect-movements if you stick her on her back. And she hasn't yet stopped with the chuffy little cough when she's mad and hungry. Stayed awake for a good long while today; I suspect this is the beginning of the end of the easiness that comes with an incredibly sleepy newborn. Sigh.

Have not finished making or wrapping Xmas gifts yet, so off I go. Have a Merry Xmas, or at least a merry work holiday.


The Corrections

(Which, by the way, I have heard is by far the most putrid example of self-important whine-soaked pretentious NY-style fiction to dribble from the anus of the publishing world in the last few years. But I digress.)

Turns out that the $800 bill I got from that minerals testing lab was not entirely legitimate. If you pay up via credit card, the charge is only (only!) $255. Which we expected. If they have to bill you, and you pay by check, then you get to tack on $575. Jaysus.

I called and confirmed that they did have the correct credit card number, so they admitted that they may have transposed a couple of numbers while typing, and charged us the lower amount. Breathing easier now. Let's hope the hospital, which just sent me a $1300 bill for my Mali hospital stay, is open to similar adjustments.

Today should be a good morning. My mom got Mali to sleep in the bassinet downstairs. Leelo is with Therapist F. I called up Jo and bullied her into taking Iz for the morning. Off to clean clean clean! Tidy tidy tidy! So then I can relax relax relax. No, I haven't been reading/watching too much Eloise, oh no.


Flaming Wreckage

Iz is loop-reading a great book about The Hindenburg. Good information to have for chats with her Uncle Chet--employee of Rummy and history/military fanatic--who arrives tomorrow for a week's stay. Plus it's always amusing to see the shock registering on the faces of people in coffee shops who look down dotingly to see what the tiny girl is reading, and then notice the picture of flaming disaster on the cover. I finally managed to deflect her onto Paul Bunyan instead, this afternoon.

Leelo has a horrible cold. This means that, while Mali is not that much of a night time waking menace, he certainly is. Poor boy. Plus his new anti-yeast regimen coupled with swallowing all that mucus means his nighttime shitstorms have resumed. Although he can't bring them to fruition like he used to due to his inability to take off his jammies.

Mali's bilirubin tested lower today than it had last week (excellent!). But Dr. G still wants to see her in two weeks to assess her condition. She is awake more and more during the day. Seymour keeps crowing about new incredible things she's capable of, almost every day. It is cute. You'd think there'd never been a baby born, before her debut.

I miss my friends. I am missing my life. While I am enjoying the snuggly newborn phase, it is becoming bittersweet. Because I can see how people handle this three-child thing, especially when the existing two are older--the Iz-Mali dyad is total cake.

The Leelo factor makes everything impossible, though--there are few safe places I can put the baby down when he's around, which means god knows how I'll get anything done once my mom leaves. And I am sick at heart about how reduced my time with Leelo is--especially when I'm stuck in the nursing chair and he gets in a stim cycle of pacing the living room with a stim object in each hand or while slurping on some forbidden choking hazard. At these times I am physically incapable of snapping him out of it, and he knows it--he totally ignores all verbal cajoling or even direct commands. Sigh.

Iz just told me that she is a big enough girl to watch Beetlejuice. Fine, I put it on. It's an edited-for-TV version, but still. We'll see. She's still completely freaked by even the mention of Large Marge.


Not That Bad

Even though I am in grouchyfuck mode, I am not as pissy as the previous entry would lead a person to believe. Shellshocked and overwhelmed, sure, but neither dour nor pessimistic.

I suspect that 2nd & 3rd trimester and breastfeeding hormones are like uppers to me. I haven't felt truly down at all while these free little mood boosters have been in plentiful supply.

For instance, yesterday's list of ills didn't make me angry or depressed, even though it apparently read like the preface to Doomsday. I was more amused by how every single item got completely fucked up. And I didn't even include how Leelo missed two therapy sessions yesterday, one because of the surgery and the second because Therapist L called it off in a voice that, over the telephone, sounded like she was trying to breathe through wet towels.

I am interested in hearing whether anyone else has experienced this kind of hormone high. I don't remember it from the previous pregnancies/nursing periods, but then again we didn't have so much drama in our lives during those times.

Today is a happy day in general. Mali slept from midnight until almost 7 A.M., and is asleep right now. Leelo is at a park with his dad, my mom graciously offered to go do the grocery shopping, and Iz went to the Nutcraquer with her godparents. I am going to go do frittery piles o' household crap management, with glee and gusto.

Have a good weekend.

P.S. I am bummed about not going to Badger's groovy party tonight, but I'm just haven't rejoined the real world to that degree or headspace. Have a faboo time, self-proclaimed freaks!


Not the Day to Buy a Lottery Ticket

That lady who drove into the side of our new minivan yesterday while my mom was graciously driving Leelo home from speech therapy? All the insurance and ID info she gave my mom was fake. (No one was hurt and the car is still driveable.)

That certified letter that the post office keeps telling me to come get? Today I went there for the second time and they couldn't find it--again.

That trip my sister in law and Seymour's parents were going to take to the East Coast for Xmas? Cancelled because my poor sister-in-law, whose eardrum ruptured right before Thanksgiving, got another ear infection and can't fly. They called to ask about spending Xmas with us--in my house where already all three of my brothers and their families will be present.

That follow-up bilirubin test Mali was supposed to take today? When I called up Dr. G's office to ask about it, he actually got grumpy with me. I've never heard/seen him get grumpy. Must have been an interesting week in his office. I only wanted to know why, if Mali's current bilirubin levels do not present any danger to her (his words), he wanted me to stop nursing to bring the bilirubin levels down. He wanted to know why I was calling if I wasn't concerned, when in fact I being diligent--he'd told me he wanted me to follow up in a week or two.

That FedEx package from Seymour's mom that was supposed to be here by 8 A.M.? (Important to her, not me.) It arrived at 5:00. We are in some sort of postal delivery black hole. Unless you count UPS parcels--four more enormous ones arrived today.

That Iron Gate meal that was supposed to be delivered tonight? I've not heard a word from the responsible parent, and it's 10 minutes until dinner time. Good thing I only threw out the skanky leftovers--we've still plenty of edible ones.

Ah well, there is still plenty of my mom's homemade shortbread to work through.
Happiness: Semi-Solitude

A quick note from the laptop precariously perched in front of the frantic fish's tank, while Leelo watches Yellow Submarine (his request; probably the psychedelia of it all makes perfect sense to a kid on the spectrum), and Mali sleeps in her cozy little carseat, under the table. Iz is at school, as is my mom--she's helping with their Navidad fiesta. Seymour just went to work. I don't have to negotiate my home space with any other adults for at least 90 minutes. This is a sweet relief. Keep sleeping, baby!

First of all, I am going to go through the fridge and toss lots of leftovers and hope my mom never notices. I do realize that most of what I write about her here is griping, which is unfair--she is ceaselessly cleaning up after all of us, and I don't even want to think about what the house will look like when she leaves after Xmas. Though we won't have the holiday and new baby package onslaught to deal with any more, either, at that point. She is also funny as hell, with a story for every occasion. I am enjoying having her here, and will most likely cry when she leaves, as I did with both the other kids.

Kid cataloguing, in scattershot dispatch format:

Leelo had his remaining ear tube surgically extracted this morning. Seymour was kind enough to take him in, as I didn't see how I could manage both Mali and pre-operative, terrified Leelo. Though fortunately the good people at the hospital (not Stanffford) remembered to slip him the pre-op V drug that prevents hysteria, and all went smoothly. Seymour managed to get to work only about an hour late.

Leelo's reaction to the new regimen of new antifungals, probiotics, digestive enzymes, and antibiotics has been mixed, but mostly positive. He's had a few completely fucking nutty moments (expected from the side effects of yeast die-off), but overall is much more lucid, calm, and focused--even Supervisor M has remarked on it. He is learning and generalizing new things again (e.g., saying "Yes, [insert name here]" when asked a question, or "I want X, [name]" when making a request), and his spontaneous greetings have reappeared, complete with name (to see if he's really back on track, we'll need to test his greeting of MB).

I suspect Iz is still in shell-shock mode from the academic demands of her school. She's not reading much in English these days, not much at all. Perhaps over the break.

Instead of reading, she is asking for TV or music, or is drawing. She frequently requests science documentaries to watch, for instance the one which demonstrates exactly how gold is mined in this modern era compared to the gold rush days--complete with pounding sticks of dynamite into drilled holes in an underground rock face. Or she wants to watch absolute crap like the Eloise movies, which I get stuck watching, too, if I'm nursing, and which make me want to shave and smack the heads of all child (over)actors. Surely they could have found a child who knows how to say "for Lord's sake" properly?

Other creative Iz endeavors: She cut her own bangs last week--the bangs we've been growing out for over a year. Sigh. Thankfully it's just a few strands, and it wasn't all that short, but we'd just gotten her hair to the point where we could put it all back into a ponytail.

Mali had her first non-ideal evening yesterday, the first one in which she interrupted dinner. Unfortunately it was the first one in which I'd felt comfortable taking her out to dine by myself. My samosa appetizer was interrupted by loud grunting and then a liquid explosion from the car seat. Thankfully Surrraj has a changing table in the bathroom, and a comfortable bench upon which to nurse. Mali slept on my shoulder for the remainder of dinner, and, by using strategically placed bowls of chutney as paperweights, I was able to continue reading and eating.

She woke up again, though, as soon as I put her in the car seat, and cried all the way to and through the grocery store (fun!), and then all the way home as well. Turns out she had another full diaper--but I hadn't smelled it or heard it, and it didn't occur to me that she would have two prize-winners in succession. Poor girl. She went to sleep with me at 11, slept until 3, had a snort, and then slept until 7. I can live with only one sleep interruption per night.

She was awake for a couple of big long stretches yesterday, which was nice--but which reminded me how lump-like newborns are. What do you do with them when they're awake, after you're sung and chitty-chatted out? In my case I brought out the Gymini play mat thingie, which she loved, and which just happens to be the same one Iz and Leelo used, returned to us after a few years with cousin Patrick. This is the newborn one, in black/white/red. This color combination, thought to be The Most Stimulating For Infants in 1999, is apparently already passe, as all infant gear these days is multi-colored.

I am enjoying her wakey-time grunting and cooing and just looking around. I think she is intentionally batting at the hanging items from the play mat crossbars. And she is certainly a strong baby, having been able to lift her head up completely since birth.

We're still trying to figure out who Mali looks like. Even though Seymour thinks she looks like Iz, my mom and I think her eyes are totally different, and that she in fact looks more like cousin Elise. My mom keeps calling her a little changeling, and says that the third children in our families are always like that--my grandmother was a blond, blue-eyed elf-child after two robust brunettes, and I didn't look like any baby my mother had ever seen--in fact she sent me back twice, saying that I couldn't be hers as I was too funny looking and she only gave birth to beautiful babies.

Perhaps we will get the tree trimmed tonight. It's been sitting in the corner, with the four or five ornaments that Iz made stuck on it haphazardly, for a week now.


Chicken Crack Salad

One of the Iron Gate moms made this salad for us last week. It was so fricking good that I harbored many evil thoughts about hiding the leftovers from my mom and Seymour--and I don't even like chicken! I did resort to eating straight from the open leftovers container when I knew they were watching, but since the salad is so obscenely delicious they were not dissuaded, and laid claim to their portions. Sigh. Guess I'll just have to make more. For now I'll just share it with the world!
Curried Chicken Salad

3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good mayo
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup Major Grey's chutney
3 Tbs. Curry powder
1 cup medium diced celery ( 2 large stalks)
1/4 cup diced scallions, white and green parts (2 scallions)
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup whole roasted, salted cashews

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the chicken is just cooked. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the bones, discard skin, and dice the chicken in large bite-size pieces.

For the dressing, combine the mayo, wine, chutney, curry powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a food processor. Process until smooth.

Combine chicken with enough dressing to moisten well. Add the celery, scallions, and raisins, and mix well. Refrigerate for a few hours to allow flavors to blend. Add the cashews and serve at room temperature.
The Hallucinatory Phase

Seymour's off to work as of Monday, and probably elated beyond measure although far too courteous to let us glimpse his glee.

For some reason, as much as Mali sleeps I have not really had a second to take a break--until right now when I announced that I was going downstairs on the computer goddammit.

One of the downsides of co-sleeping/nursing in bed is that you can't always crash when you hit the pillow. In Mali's case, at least, transferring her from whatever position/situation she was in before getting deposited in bed with me means she wakes up instantly and needs to be nursed back to sleep. And, since she likes to do a power-nursing before doing her blessedly lengthy night sleep (1 to 5:30 last night), this means up to two hours, several times per side, of feeding. She's got quite the powerful suction action, which means I can't fully (ow!) relax just yet. And while I'm not as sleep deprived as most parents of newborns, I'm still a card-carrying member of the walking dead.

Which means that, after 2.5 weeks, we've entered the hallucinatory/grouchyfuck phase. If you try to talk to me, I'll either tell you to go away, or will make absolutely no sense.

What else do I do all day? Dunno. Run errands with my mom, who insists on cooking all the time even though we're still getting meals every other day and my fridge is groaning with the effort of containing all those containers of leftovers. Grumble like the ingrate I am at the UPS guy every time he delivers a package to our increasingly crowded and cluttered home. Nurse, nurse, nurse. Think about all the thank-you notes I'm not writing, and hope that I'm not forgetting about any of them.

Spending a lot of time in the car, where Iz keeps asking me to loop Yelllow Submarine and Sweeetheart From Venezuela, and Mali will almost always fall asleep to "Good Night" by Laurie Berkkkkner since I sang Leelo to sleep with that song almost every night for the last several months, and Leelo is always asking for "Palloween" (The Nightmare Before Xmas soundtrack). When I'm not subject to their whims, though, I have been listening to this excellent CD that my friend Skip sent for Mali.

Skip digs harder and deeper for the musical goods than anyone I know, so his CDs are always a treat. This one is called "Pink Mali," and even though it doesn't have a track listing (aiiiieee!) it is still one of the best CDs he's ever sent. It is full of mashes, which are ever so appropriate since, like Mali, they weren't meant to be but once they arrive they're just so right.

Missy Elliott/Joy Division is my favorite track so far, but listening to it makes me think of Chris Tucker (she does sound a lot like him) and wonder where the hell he is. What the hell? Friday and Fifth Element and the Rush Hour twins, and now what? Fifth Element was a recent TeeVo offering, and made me wonder about his whereabouts even more.

Other TeeVo items: Far too much DS9. I am realizing that any episodes with Leeta, Nog, or (to a lesser extent) Rom make me want to throw heavy objects at the TV screen. Plus lots of HBO heavy rotation movies, like House of Sannnnd and Fog (God I love Ben Kingsley), and, since I already wanted to cut out my own heart and eat it after that gorgeous depression-fest, Myssstic River. My mom has been spending too much time watching what the kids watch, so her reaction to the latter movie was "Is that Cowboy Curtis?" Can't wait until the kids see Matttrix for the first time and realize that that's who Morpheus is. Heh.

We've decided that, as of three days ago, Mali looks like a real baby now, not just a squishy wrinkled newborn. Although still a very yellow one. There hasn't been enough sun around to help with the jaundice much. I am starting to get worried; we've got another bilirubin check on Friday. I know I shouldn't really worry.


Nice Leelo Items

Today Leelo ate his multigrain pancakes, with gusto. They did have butter and a few drops of syrup on them, but I'm guessing we can throttle that back or add blueberries or raspberries to them instead. He used to eat those gawdawful gfcf pancakes plain, so there's precedent.

He has been giving lots of thoughtful eye contact today, and soliciting interactions with people a lot--something I didn't realize he hadn't done in a while. It may have been spurred by a visit from Clyde, whom he adores, but regardless he spent a good long while giving people hugs, and then coming up to all the adults in turn and offering us his "chewy," at which point we all pretended to chew on it and he was greatly amused.

There are great rafts of crap piling up all over my house and they are driving me fucking nuts. Whenever I clear one pile another erupts in its place shortly afterwards. I think I need to leave the house for a while and get some exercise, so that things like this don't send me over the edge. Perhaps tomorrow while both of the older kiddlings are in school.


Wiped, Again

Ack, I am wiped. The new baby elation hormones are spent. Hence no posting. Also I am soaking up new baby sweetness a lot (i.e., stuck in the nursing chair not wanting to move for fear of waking the sleeping baby).

Mali continues to be wonderful. Still sleeping well, awake more now. I am savoring every easy sleepy moment, as even wakeful easy babies are more work than sleeping ones.

She had another appointment with her traditional pediatrician, Dr. G, yesterday, to check on her jaundice levels. He suspected that she's got breast milk jaundice, and said if her bilirubin was above 15, he'd want me to stop nursing for 24 hours while substituting formula, to help her bilirubin levels drop. She tested at 14.9. We're going to stick her out in the sun a lot and check her levels again in a week.

Leelo is on his new anti-fungal regimen as of two days ago. He'll be spending 5 weeks off all supplements except Amphotericin (antifungal), Uva Ursi (antibacterial for his gut), Phenol Assist (dietary enzyme) and Therabiotic (probiotic). We've also cut his sugar down, and are cutting out all simple starches--whole grains only for our boy. Thankfully the new Hole Foods carries whole wheat croissants.

His diet is still so limited--of the foods he's allowed to eat, he will only accept almond butter sandwiches, croissants, veggie booty, bananas, and cheerios. Tonight he ate dried raspberries, a former favorite, but that's no guarantee he'll still be eating them tomorrow. We're going to see if he'll eat multigrain pancakes, the hope being that he'll get eggs that way and we can also hide things like shredded carrots or blueberries in the mix. I'm also going to give guacamole another shot. And I'm starting to think a consult with a dietician/nutritionist might not be a bad thing.

Iz is Iz. She's having increasing pain-in-the-ass moments, which I suspect are due to less sleep with Grandma around, and my frequent absences during the usual school morning routine.

Seymour goes back to work on Monday. Sigh. He will be relieved to escape from this madhouse.

And that's about all the cataloguing I can do for tonight. To sleep or rest. Have a good weekend.


Somewhat Thematic

This afternoon, as I was sitting in a Malian restaurant eating Malian food, reading my fluffy backpack book about Mali (as opposed to my current bedside book, historical fiction about Mali), while sitting next to my daughter Mali, Seymour came back to the table and said "I've been thinking about our next kid-free trip. Maybe we should go to Mali!" Snort. Sure, why not. In two or three years, anything will be possible.

We then introduced our daughter to the restaurant's proprietor. He thought her name was great, whereas one of the eavesdropping waiters--a fellow who'd yet to crack a smile over the last seven years, at least in my presence--immediately started busting up. The proprietor ignored him, though, and told us that in Mali the name is quite popular, though it's a different word in his language.

Mali had another good night last night. Up and actively feeding for two hours straight until around midnight, but then she slept until 5:30, had a light snack, and slept again until 10:30.

My lovely family let me sleep in with her, as I had an overextended day yesterday. Ran 50 or so errands with my mom in the morning, spent the mid-day frantically tidying the house so it could be properly cleaned, then Seymour and I spent the evening and quite a load of cash at the annual Iron Gate auction/fundraiser (it qualifies as a night classes, and we get double credit for Seymour attending too, so I get to miss one more night class without going in the red).

Mali came with us to the auction, and spent the entire night sleeping on my shoulder. Despite being totally conked out, she was the belle of the ball, with almost every person on site coming over too coo at her some time during the evening. As well they should.

I thought I was doing okay despite the hecticness of the day, even though earlier in the afternoon (fainthearted readers, clear out now) I had passed a golf ball-sized blood clot followed by a huge gush of blood that soaked right past my gear and through my drawers and pants. It didn't impress or worry my doctor, though, so we carried on with our evening plans. But then at the end of the auction I had another one of those pre-migraine auras (mostly annoying because I was sitting down to nurse, and it distorted my vision too badly for me to be able to read), and started feeling woozy and nauseous. We went home and I went to bed. After almost 12 hours of sleep I feel much, much better.

This morning we took Mali on her first visit to Dr. S, the combo traditional pediatrician/homeopath. It was, from my perspective at least, a lovely lovely visit (Seymour is skeptical about her homeopath side, even though we didn't venture into that territory today).

Dr. S declared Mali completely healthy, strong, and beautiful. Our girl has gained almost all of her weight back. She is not concerned about her sleeping so much--she says that as long as she nurses well and is alert when she does wake up, then we should just enjoy having such an easy baby for now.

She is also not concerned about her slight jaundice--she says that it's probably due to our Rh incompatibility (I'm negative, Mali is positive) and that if we keep nursing along and expose her to light when we can, she'll be fine. She also said that nursing babies can take longer to overcome any jaundice--I'm guessing because they absorb more and spew out less than bottle-fed babies--though Miss Mali had quite the outfit-killing episode in the middle of our visit (which the doctor declared "wonderful," in terms of demonstrating our girl's processing abilities).

She also told us not to worry about her umbilical cord stump falling off so early (4 days), and that it will be fine as long as it doesn't start to smell.

Finally, she told us that her policy about vaccines was to give parents as much information as possible to make the determination on their own, but that she herself has, over the course of 20 years of considering the issue, come to the conculsion that an intact immune system is the best defense. However, she will respect whatever decisions we make, and said that there's no time pressure--the only time pressue is whatever pediatricians put on parents. Now it's time for Seymour to do his homework.

Off now, as I've not seen my other kids since we left for the auction last night, and Mali is waking up. No time for spell-check.


Even Possible?

Mali slept from 12:30 A.M. to 7 A.M. this morning. Aaaaigh, something must be wrong! Or perhaps it's just the warm cozy benefits of co-sleeping? She'd also gotten herself from her back to her tummy sometime during the evening.


Happy Holidayses!

Jo came over and took our holiday photos this year. I hope she won't mind me posting our final selection--it came out so splendidly, and she did such an excellent (and fast!) job.

Mali was awake more today. But she's asleep right now so I think I'm going to go in a minute, too.

Leelo had a rough end to his day. He got mad at me and Seymour both when we tried to put him down. Seymour finally figured out that the boy's angry about the new baby, especially her getting to sleep in our bed, and us holding her all the time. That, and we tried to get him to eat scrambled eggs for dinner. But he was very sad, alternately crying for us and then pushing us away. We spend a good long time just hanging out with him, telling him we were there and that he was our boy, and stroking his hair/back. He seemed to calm down and go to sleep after a while. Poor little bit.


Trio Update

Mali is such a good baby so far. Sleeps all the time, eats every three-four hours, doesn't even spit up after she eats, has only killed one or two outfits with poop explosions.

Last night she was awake and continuously hungry from 10 to midnight, and I found myself mildly annoyed at her inconveniencing me this first time ever (I wanted to go to sleep). Selfish, ungrateful mommy! Especially since she then slept until 5:30 A.M., had a quick meal, and then slept through until 9:30. Is this even possible? I keep fretting that her mellowness and only eating every three-four hours must mean that something is wrong, that something bad is going to happen because no one gets this kind of luck with a baby otherwise.

Seymour had turned up the heat in the house, making a cozy cozy environment in which everyone who wasn't me or Mali still slept in until at least 8:30, even Leelo. And we were supposed to meet poor Ep at the Cafe at 10:00. Whoops! We got there eventually.

Iz somehow got turned onto Bob Ross's Joy of Painting. Gack. She is absolutely fascinated, and will loop the one half-hour segment she TeeVo'd endlessly if allowed to do so. We rented Yellow Submarine and are hoping that she'll take to it instead.

Leelo is really having a rough time in all areas except preschool, where he is doing beautifully and really excelling in all the areas we're focusing on (spontaneous language, spontaneous responses to adult/child requests such as a "high five").

Because Leelo's language use has decreased while his sensory needs and spaciness have increased rather markedly, Seymour and I have decided to forego the B12 trial series we were about to do. We'll instead start his antifungal/gut dysbiosis treatment, as this is the only area in which we've really ever seen a difference in his behavior.

We consulted with Dr. P, who had no problem with our rearranging Leelo's treatment sequence. Starting Monday or Tuesday, after Seymour consults with Dr. P one last time, we will take Leelo off all of his current supplements, sugar, and simple starches. We will then put him on new and more powerful probiotics and digestive enzymes, as well as Amphotericin (a hardcore anti-fungal) and Uva Ursi (a natural, non-systemic antibiotic). I suspect our boy might be on this low sugar/starch diet indefinitely. Sigh. But then I really can't complain too much; it's certainly several degrees easier than giving up gluten.

Jo has asked that I post newborn pix of all three kiddlings for her to compare. Here you go:

Here is Iz. This is from six years ago, folks. A digital camera with 640 x 480 resolution was a big deal then.

Mr. Leelo, looking sleepy for probably the last time in his life.

Sweet Miss Mali.
Body Inventory

Complexion: somewhat cleared up! Hurrah! At least most of the massive red patches are gone.

Facial/nose bloating: mostly gone. I almost have my regular nose back. Hi, nose! I missed you.

Numbness/carpal tunnel: also almost gone, except some lingering numbness in the tips of my ring fingers--and who cares about those particular digits, anyhow.

Udders: soft again, seem to be quite functional. Very relieved that the boulders have left town. Although I'd forgotten for the second time how long it takes for one's nipples to toughen up. I don't understand how such a tiny, soft mouth can rasp my skin so raw. While they aren't cracked or bleeding, and I am grateful for that, it's still going to be a while until I can let her latch on without making a Marc Anthony face.

Tummy: Still quite poochy, but who cares. It's only been a week. Although my stomach and udders together give the impression that I've three large pears dangling from my front.

Belly Button: Poor dear! The ligation incisions were made on its top and bottom. They form a nice capital "I" scar when paired with the old vertical incision from my laparoscopic ectopic repair job. And then there's the belly ring piercing holes which, after 14 years and 3 pregnancies, make the whole affair look like it's topped by a sideways umlaut. It'll take a while for things to get to a point where I can truly survey the damage, but I don't think that area is every going to qualify as sexy, or indeed anything other than a battlefield.

Ligations: Mostly healed, although they ache if I stand up or stay out for too long. The right side one--the former ectopic side--is particularly twingey. I will ask my Dr. if there were any funky adhesions or other goodies that she had to deal with.

Ankles: Swelling, gone! Yeah!

Hands: Swelling greatly diminished. Regular rings back on.

Wrists: Yellow marks from all those IV attempts (they got two out of four right) on the wane.

Summary: Feeling very much like myself again, anticipating full return to former self--the self who isn't continuously putting absorbent pads all over her body--by Xmas. The poochy belly will probably be a holdout, as I'm not allowed to exercise for a bit longer.


Post-Partum Details

And there we were, with a white gooey cute perfect little GIRL resting on my chest. Unbelievable stuff. I was overcome with surprise and delight--my not-so-secret desperate wish for a daughter rather than a son, fulfilled? (Not that I dislike boys, but I have three brothers and my one darling Leelo and so am feeling more than taken care of on the XY count.)

Seymour and Doula A all hung around, oohing and beaming. As they should. "Hi, Mali!" I said, "I'm so glad you're here!"

Dr. K finished her business down below. No perineal tears, woo-hoo! What a good baby. The good doctor then announced, about 20 minutes after she'd arrived, "Well, that's that! Nice and easy. Are you sure you want to have your tubes tied? I really don't mind delivering you." Heh. Right. Off she went.

In came Seymour's parents, who had been waiting out in the hall and most likely heard me yelling. Mali is their fifth grandchild, but they were just as pleased as if she was their first. We called my mom to let her know what was up. And she, though altruistically missing the birth to be with Leelo and Iz, got to be the one to tell an ecstatic Iz that she had a baby sister.

After 10 minutes or so, we decided to see if she was going to be a good eater. Mali latched on right away! Good sign. Whew.

Our delivery nurse was extraordinarily cool. Even though parents are no longer allowed to take placentas home with them--the organs have been reclassified as biohazardous waste--she snuck ours to us anyhow. "Don't tell the day shift I did this!" she crowed, "Biohazardous waste--it came from your body, it's yours--what, is the baby now biohazardous waste, too?" She also warned us about raccoons, about planting placentas deep and putting cages around the trees and roots at first. Seymour smuggled the forbidden goods home to our freezer, where it is currently resting with its siblings.

After about 30 minutes, Seymour went off with Mali to the nursery for all the bathing and weighing and whatnot. Doula A checked to make sure I was okay, and left. The delievery nurse took out my IV. I dozed. Seymour and Mali came back, and, though my dear partner offered to stay in the room, I sent him home to sleep so that Leelo wouldn't freak out when he woke up. Me missing makes him upset enough; his reaction to both of us missing would be more than I'd want to foist upon my mom.

I spent the night dozing on and off, with Mali snuggled back on my chest. No one came in to check on me all night, which was a welcome change from previous stays--perhaps the hospital has finally realized that patients don't like being disturbed before sunrise?

Around 7 A.M., I got bored and called my mom to ask if they could come by soon, with doughnuts, as I'd missed dinner the previous night. She, and everyone else, were still asleep, so I apologized, and told them to come whenever they liked as long as they came before 11:30, as my surgery was scheduled for noon.

A while later, they still hadn't arrived, but the morning shift nurse came in. I told her that I'd asked my family to bring doughnuts, and she almost fell over. "You're having surgery this morning!" she said, "You're not supposed to have anything to eat or drink, starting at midnight!"

Oh. Well, we'll just pretend I didn't eat all of those saltines and drink all that water right after Mali was born.

The kind, lovely nurse did her baby check and other baby procedures while I took a lovely, lovely shower. When I emerged, the nurse said, "By the way, they've rescheduled you for 10:00 A.M."

It was 9:15 A.M.

A panicked call to my house got Seymour and crew motivated to arrive by 9:45. In the meantime, the nurse stuck in another, pre-op IV. I don't know why, but they've started using super-huge gauge needles lately. Or maybe I just don't remember, but damn. Huge! And I don't usually mind needles, but OUCH. The nurse left to see about other surgery arrangements.

I spaced out, watching Mali doze in her bassinet at my side, and then noticed that my arm hurt. I looked down, and my forearm had swollen up like Popeye's--apparently, the needle had slipped out of my vein an into my tissues. I started pressing the call button frantically, but no one came immediately so I resorted to pinching the IV line to stop any more saline (they'd already told me that that's all it was) from going in.

When the nurse came in, she was kind but somewhat eye-rolling, preemptively figuring that like most patients I was panicking about nothing. Then she saw me pinching the IV line and holding my arm, and freaked. "Oh my GOD, you've INFILTRATED!" she said. "I am so sorry, oh my God oh my GOD!"

I really didn't think it was that big of a deal once it was out, and told her so, but she kept apologizing anyhow. She had to redo the IV in another arm, so to distract her I asked her about my procedure. She told me that I was going to get an epidural rather than a general. My reaction: "Huh?"

I thought I'd be getting a general, I thought that's what Dr. K had said. I'd never had an epidural, and was rather relieved to never have needed to introduce a needle to my spinal column. Plus I was worried that I'd be awake for the procedure which, even though I'm extremely interested in science and biology and anatomy, wasn't so appealing after all.

Seymour and kids and my mom arrived to watch Mali. Iz was hopping about like a mad hatter, thrilled to meet her new sister. Leelo was not really able to concentrate on Mali, as he was aware that we'd taken him into yet another hospital, and he was keening slightly, steeling himself to see what was going to happen. I didn't have much time to play with or reassure either child, as they wheeled me off within minutes, the nurse remarking "Now I see why you're getting this surgery done."

Operating rooms are cold, icky places with lots of people scuttling about busy with things other than the patient. I'd forgotten this. They had me sit up on the operating table, and then bend over so my lower spine was pressed outwards and the anesthesiologist could reach her sweet spot better. This meant that I was largely naked. Thankfully, after a while, they got a warmed blanket and put it around my shoulders. Still, needle in the spine? Not pleasant. Then I got to lie down and they slapped a mask over my face and put me into twilight sleep. I don't remember any of the procedure at all, except Dr. K coming in at the last conscious minute and asking me if I was really, really sure I wanted my tubes tied. I think I started laughing as I drifted off into la-la land.

Then I woke up with a start in the recovery room 90 minutes later. The same nurse was with me, and told me that we'd gotten the blood type results back from Mali, that she was Rh positive (I am Rh negative). She then said that it didn't really matter, I wouldn't be needing a Rhogam shot anyhow (Rhogam being the substance that prevents Rh negative mothers from spontaneously aborting future RH positive babies). I told her that, no, I did need the shot because even though I wouldn't be having any more babies of my own, there is always a chance that Godfather M will find a nice donor egg in the next few years, and will need a good incubator in which to grow it after it's fertilized.

Back to our room, where Mali blessedly was still asleep and not yet hungry, and where a nice hospital meal awaited (I would have been happy with gnawing on chicken bones by this time). Once I proved to the nurse that I was able to "pass gas," they let me eat. Oooooh, food food food.

Recovering from an epidural is one of the oddest things I've ever experienced. It's like injecting one's nethers with novocaine. The nurses came in after I'd been in my room for an hour or so and asked if I thought I could pee. "I don't know," I said, "can I?" There wasn't one twinge of feeling down there, not for another two hours. I could have already been sitting in a puddle, for all I knew.

My mom and Iz wanted to stay with me and Mali, but Leelo was still slightly upset by the hospital environment, so Seymour took him home. Where my partner found that, on the second-busiest day of the year, the day after his daughter was born, and during the time he is down one network manager, that of course the company website went down. It also falls under his jurisdiction, and is a big source of revenue for his company, so he spent his afternoon juggling Leelo and this crisis. Because he is a super-genius, he got it fixed--even though the problem was with some middleware that he isn't even responsible for maintaining or even knowing.

The rest of the day/night is sort of a blur. I posted the Mali announcement to the blog via Seymour's Tree-Oh at 56K speed, which is why it's all lowercase and weird-looking. Seymour's folks came back to visit, bringing lovely flowers. Ep came to visit, too, as did JP and her crew--with Joe Schmittt chocolates, even. My mom and Iz went home. I spent the night realizing that hospitals are no fun with a newborn if you prefer to sleep with them, as the beds are too narrow to put them next to you and if they're on your chest, they might fall off so you can't really sleep. I decided to leave a.s.a.p., meaning noon.

Another check of my nethers, a pediatrician check for Mali (where they said she had potential jaundice and needed to be rechecked the next day, and we got to go. Jo and Badger arrived in a flurry of excited punk-auntiness and saw us off. A quick stop for nursing pillows on the way home (we had none) and that's that.



My ex-ER nurse mother just informed me, after a discreet but panicked blog-reading friend called to ask about "what major surgery Squid had," that--unless they gave me a bowel resection as well--a tubal ligation is not major surgery.

"Still," my mom said, thoughtfully, "You are basically recovering from two stab wounds to your gut."

I am exhausted after merely going out for Thursday coffee at the cafe. But, even with all this help, I have to remember that it is difficult to resume one's life days after both giving birth and having major surgery, especially when one is sleep deprived.

A short entry then, instead of more hospital details.

We had to take Mali into our pediatrician on Monday because the hospital's pediatrician thought she might be slightly jaundiced, and wanted her bilirubin levels rechecked within 24 hours. The very informative hospital pediatrician also told us that there is a new version of the Hepatitis B vaccine normally given to newborns. It is a combo vaccine given at two months.

So, we called Dr. S, the homeopath/traditional pediatrician combo we'd like to move to. She is a solo practitioner, and is out of the office until Dec. 5. Shit. Then I thought, hey, we've not yet had our official no-we-won't-give-vaccinations break up with our current pediatrician, the otherwise wonderful Dr. G. Let's go see him!

And we did. And Dr. G's associate Dr. C agreed that we could wait until Mali's two-month checkup to do our first vaccinations. We get to spin our wheels, pediatrically, for 8 more weeks! This means we'll only pay out-of-pocket costs for Dr. S for a month or so before we're allowed to switch to our insurance's PPO and have her covered. A big relief, as Seymour hasn't quite finished doing all his vaccinations research.

Which reminds me, we need to give Mali her first oral vitamin K dose today. Although when she went to get her bilirubin levels retested, the technicians had trouble getting enough of a sample because her blood clotted so quickly, which to me means hemorrhagic disease is unlikely.


Those Weren't Real Boulders

No no. The real boulders appeared this morning, when Leelo tried to jump into our bed, got vetoed, started crying, and triggered a steady dripping onto my arm--Mali's drink of choice, soaking right through my shirt. The sleeping-on-towels phase, which I stupidly thought I'd avoided, is upon us.

As for the boulders themselves, they are porn-star hilarious in their size and tumescence. I took a picture, but suspect that Seymour'd like to keep it for himself, as there's not going to be much else action for him during the next six weeks--I am pelvically sidelined on doctor's orders.

Mali continues to be a very good baby. Sleeps, eats, poops, screams bloody murder when you change her drawers. Mostly sleeps. Alert and awake for maybe 10 minutes every three hours. I am hoping beyond hope that she continues to be this mellow.

The parents at Leelo's preschool, Iron Gate, are making us dinners every other night through the holidays. After that I get to pump the local mothers club! Woo! I promise to cease making fun of both organizations until the final meal has been delivered.

Although we did go to dinner at Surrraj last night, tomorrow will be Mali's first offical day out--to coffee, natch.

Post-birth details (the tubal ligation!) to come tomorrow some time.
The Details

Mali was born on the day after Thanksgiving. I am grateful to her for that, for my getting to tuck into huge piles of mashed potatoes and gravy and yet still have plenty of time for Mali to meet and hang out with Seymour's parents before they left on Sunday. Too bad my auntie's plane left 10 hours before the blessed event.

We spent Friday toodling around. Seymour went to work as the day after Thanksgiving is consistently the busiest day of the year at his place of employment, and he is down one network manager. The rest of us had lunch with Seymour's folks at their hotel, then headed over to Ford Madox Ford park to chat with Ep and watch the kiddies gambol about with Merlin.

I was feeling pretty crappy, but decided that we needed to go grocery shopping afterwards anyhow. My first sign that things were Not Good (i.e., imminent) was that it was physically impossible for me to carry any groceries from the car to the house.

Seymour's folks came over soon afterwards for Thanksgiving leftovers. I had a couple of good contractions over two hours, nothing to worry about but enough to cancel my appetite. Still, I called the doula around 9:30 to let her know that I'd most likely be calling her at an even less convenient hour, quite soon.

Then I had three strong contractions, 20 minutes apart. Mali had her head or shoulder placed firmly on what I will call an anterior bundle of nerves--so while the contractions themselves were something I could breathe through, the nerve pain was agony. After the third spasm had me on my hands and knees panting like a dog, I decided to fuck the whole "wait until I'm definitely in labor" thing, and instead took up my doctor's recommendation to go to the hospital "at the first sign of anything."

At 10:30 P.M. Seymour and I bid my mom and the sleeping kids goodbye, called the doula to let her know we'd meet her at the hospital, and left to go to the nice place where they shoot painkilling drugs directly into one's veins. I spent the whole ride secretly crossing my fingers, fearing they'd send me back home.

Turns out I needn't have worried, as I was 7 cm dilated and in bonafide labor by the time we arrived 10 minutes later. The nurses were lovely and nice and hooked me up with the drugs straightaway--ahhhhh, Fenttaannyyll. It took the edge off and let me hang out and be mellow, though it still didn't do much about the nerve spasms that accompanied each contraction.

The doula, and then the doctor, arrived shortly afterwards. The doctor took one look up the ol' cooch, and announced that she was going to break my water. Then she said "okay, time to push!"

My reaction, as it has been every time: "What?"

I am apparently not one of those people who gets involuntary pushing urges. So the doctor said again, "Come on, push!"

My reply, through clenched teeth as another contraction/spasm cleaved my innards: "I don't WANT to!" But I tried anyhow. Seymour and Doula A held my legs and were very encouraging, but my heart wasn't in it. I think I started crying at this point like a complete fucking wuss.

However, they assured me that I could and would do this, so on the next contraction I mustered up my resources and pushed her through that nerve bundle and all the way into the world, yelling "get it out! get it out! the whole time. Success, but one in which my wimpiness forfeited all my honor and glory, and brought shame upon the empire. Sigh.

Fewer than 90 minutes had elapsed since we left the house.

Mali, in all her goo and wailing, was placed directly on my chest and got to stay there for a good long while. Happy, healthy, and a girl.

More details later.
Iz and Leelo Re: Mali

I know you all probably want birth details, but right now I'm short on time (my mom is staying in this room but is in the shower at the moment) and so will have to cut and paste what info I have already written for outgoing email. Birth gore later, appropriately enough on this, Mali's actual due date.

Iz is soooooo happy to be a big sister. Unbelievably so. But her excitement is translating into a lot of missed sleep and later nights and extraordinary grumpiness, so we're trying to be better about that. This being the first day of Advent is helping a wee bit, as she has an Advent box with 24 tiny drawers and correspondingly sized treats to look forward to and be reminded of whenever she needs an, erm, incentive.

Leelo is mostly aware that he doesn't get to spend as much time with me as he usually would. Lots of "Mommmy mommy mommy I want mommy," but I can't spend all that much time with him because he is too heavy for me to pick up and too unpredictable to snuggle with--he might head-butt me right in the sutures. I am trying to spend time reading books with him while he's sitting on a chair or stool.

This morning he came running into my room while Mali was having her morning meal, and I told him to look, that I was feeding baby Mali. "Mali Mali Mali Mali Mali!" he said, jumping up and down. So I think he's somewhat aware.

Again, mas este tardes.