The plague

|
So last week was a big fat barrel of laughs around the ole Mayer house.

The excitement started on Tuesday, when Ellie tagged along to Hadley's 3-week doctor appointment because I thought she had pink eye. 



I'd never seen pink eye, but my first clue that she might have pink eye was that her eye was pink.

When the doctor told me she did in fact have pink eye at first I was happy because I had successfully diagnosed a major medical condition. 

But then I found out I was going to have to give her eye drops four times a day.  Which I immediately knew would first involve bribery, then tearful pleading, and ultimately sitting on her chest, knocking her unconscious with a turkey leg and keeping her that way by strapping Lila's poopy diaper over her nose until I could administer said medicine.    

The next morning - as I should have anticipated - the pink eye had worked its way down the food chain.


Which, despite starting some eye drops right away, progressed to this -

                                             

Then this -


And finally, this -
Maybe the kids will get that dog they've always wanted after all.  

In addition to the pink eye, they both had a nice little virus complete with runny nose, cough and fever.  So for the next few days my challenge became keeping the newborn away from the germ vectors.  Which sounds really easy and fun, but in practice is impossible.  They are like little heat seeking missiles.  So I just decided to give up and get it over with and let the girls spit in Hadley's mouth.

But after three days and still no virus, Hadley decided to get in on the action by pooping her guts out for a couple of days.  When I innocently called the physician exchange on Friday night to find out how much Pedialyte I should give her they instructed me to immediately rush her to the ER to get checked out. 

Which is pretty much the opposite of what I wanted to do right then.  Wheel of Fortune was about to start so Nick volunteered to take her.  

Fortunately she was fine but the doctor noticed she had something called thrush.  I thought her white tongue was just a side effect of the marshmallows I'd been feeding her but no - thrush is fungus.  In her mouth. 

Now, she is my baby and I am required by law to love her unconditionally.  But I don't know if I can love something with mouth fungus.  We are not that kind of a house.  Mayers don't get mouth fungus.  

The holiday week was topped off on Saturday night when I made the executive decision that, despite pink eye, fevers, mouth fungus and a crying fit/temper tantrum because my nice pair of pants was screaming for mercy as they threatened to split from the post-baby flab stuffed in them, we were going to church. 

Dammit.  

Unfortunately everyone in the metro area also had the same idea - to come to our church - and by the time we got there it was standing room only.  Which I did for about five minutes before I decided that this was bullshit and Jesus wouldn't have wanted it this way, stomped out and found Nick as he was dropping the girls off in the nursery, told him we were leaving, and then made a Christmas Eve family trip to the grocery store in our church clothes to buy poultry seasoning and maxi pads. 

And beer.

The end.    

From our family to yours, happy holidays.               





Two's company

|
The good news:  Apparently we have (yet another) baby who likes to sleep 21 hours a day.  Note to pregnant Moms everywhere - when people tell you to lay off the sauce because you're "pregnant", nod and ignore them.  Yes, Ellie may get a little cross-eyed from time to time, and Lila likes to drink toilet water, but I believe my weekly wine allowance had a direct effect on bearing three good sleepers.  And that's a sacrifice that I'm willing to make. 

The bad news:  Said baby prefers her waking hours to be between 2-5am.  And if I learned anything in college, it's that nothing good happens between 2-5am.  I've had four people tell me that sleep deprivation is one of the most cruel types of torture that can be used on prisoners of war.  These words of encouragement ring in my ears as I sit in bed at 3am with the thousand yard stare while Hadley looks at me with eyes that say, "Thanks for the boob - now where's the after party?"

It's really hard not to get angry and frustrated, especially with these raging hormones and hours of uninterrupted sleep that I can count on one hand.  But I just try to think of all the cute things about her, like her little toes, or the beautiful auburn highlights in her hair when the sunlight catches it just right. 

And by sunlight I mean warm glow of the television set while we watch Threes Company at 2:30am.

What, you think I can actually leave the house with three kids? 

The most excitement I've had since coming home from the hospital was that I got my first Brazilian on Friday night.  It was actually the result of standing up and adjusting the colossal post c-section maxi pad wedgie I got from sitting on the couch addressing Christmas cards for three hours straight, but so exhilirating... in a bad way.

I was all, "Yowsa!  Happy birthday, MISTER PRESIDENT!"

Nick came running in all, "Are you okay?  What happened?"

And I was all, "Well, you'll find out in about 4-6 weeks... IF you play your cards right."

And I just have to say, as much flack as I give him on this blog, I need to give props where props are due.  The man is a machine - taking care of the kids so I can take a nap, cleaning, cooking, letting me sleep in every morning until our "helper of the day" gets here even though it means a busier day at work for him.  He even bought me a very nice "thanks for having a baby" gift. 

So hopefully this one paragraph makes up for the countless posts where I call out everything he's ever done that sucks.

Even Steven.

Now if you'll excuse me I hear slurping coming from the bathroom and I haven't seen Lila in 20 minutes.    

The other side

|
Recently I read a really relevant-to-my-life-right-now post on a blog I follow about a Mom who has reached the "other side" of motherhood.

You know - The Other Side? 

The side where you go to bed with the knowledge that you won't have to wake up for 8 whole hours. The side where you tell your kids to go take a bath and you'll be up to read them a story after you finish your whiskey sour.  The side where you tell them to get their own damn milk, I'm not your maid for crying out loud! 

Right now I am on the opposite of The Other Side.  With a 2 1/2-year-old, 15-month-old and 2-week-old I am so deep in the trenches I can't see daylight.     

At first the thought of being out of the trenches seems glorious and magical, sort of like finding a $20 bill in the back pocket of your jeans.  Especially right now.  Because when you have a newborn everything about your life gets put on hold. 

EVERYTHING. 

And while on hold temporarily, it's on hold indefinitely. 

Everything I've struggled to learn over the past 15 months with two children I have to totally start over and re-learn how to do with three.  Our trump tight morning routine.  Getting into and out of the car.  Lunch.   

Every milestone - eating at a restaurant, taking the train at the zoo, going to the park or just playing in the back yard... now that we have a newborn it's back to the hovel we go.  We're starting again from scratch.

And my body... oh sweet lord my body.  Since grade school I've had about 10 - 15 extra pounds hanging around, so it's not so much the weight that's bothersome so much as it's the... well... this shit is jacked up in a serious way.  It just ain't right.  With each pregnancy it's gotten progressively worse and now it's to the point where I don't know if I should call a trainer or a priest.  I've got things bulging here and hanging there... by the time Nick is legally allowed to come within a 50-foot-radius of me again he'll need a road map.  Maybe I'll just tell him to follow the stretch marks that run north and south. 

Including the two miscarriages I had before Ellie, I've been pregnant 34 out of the past 48 months.  And you can pretty much fill in the rest of the blanks with breastfeeding.  Call me selfish, but I'm ready to stop sharing my body parts.  I'm ready for things to stop leaking out of me.  I'm ready to be able to take cold medicine the next time I'm sick.

I'm ready to reclaim my body, my career, my life.  I'm ready to go on a family vacation to the beach and take a girls road trip to the American Doll store in Chicago.  I'm ready to pee without an audience.   

But then there's the other side of being on The Other Side. 

I'm just going to say it - and you're going to call me crazy and send me links to everything I've written over the past five months - I'm going to miss being pregnant.  I waddle into a room and immediately become the girl everyone wants to talk to.  Strangers everywhere want to know everything about me, want to share their own pregnancy/baby/parent stories and before I know it I've made a room full of new friends.

People scramble to get me second helpings of ice cream.  I even got a free case for my new phone because the AT&T sales person said I looked like I was "miserably suffering" as I tried to walk across the store. 

Cool, huh?

And then there's the excitement, the unparallelled awesome anticipation of meeting the person that you created with your husband (or one night stand - I'm not judging) for the first time.  Having their little personalities revealed to you bit by bit, one day at a time, like a flower opening up to the sun.

The first smile, the first word, the first steps, feeling their gentle breath on your neck as you carry them, limp and sleeping up to their beds... well, there are just no words in the English language sacred enough to describe what these things do to your heart. 

And it makes me sad to think about that coming to an end.

I'm 35 now - the sun is starting to set on my child bearing years.  And I'm really, really ready to get out of the holding pattern and let the good times roll.

So am I absolutely, positively sure we're done having kids?  Yes.  No doubt.  Absolutely.    

Am I going to let my maternity clothes hang in my closet for a couple more years just in case?  Yes.  No doubt.  Absolutely.     

Lila and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

|
Yesterday was not Lila's day. 

It started out like every other day.  She woke up at 6:15 and began making indecipherable noises to wake up Ellie, who acts as her Get Up and Get Mom and Dad Out of Bed mule now that Ellie has achieved the pedal freedom that accompanies a big girl bed. 

Lila has found this to be a more effective strategy than trying to get us out of bed by yelling at us from her crib.  It's a lot easier to ignore something chattering in a crib than a toddler opening your eyelids, asking to watch Mega Mind for the millionth time. 

Anyhoo, Nick is still on paternity leave so we decided to join every other bleary-eyed, bed headed, half-dressed man, woman and child on baby leave in the metro area and go to Target at 8:30am.  I really think Target should take advantage of all these overwhelmed, half-awake time wasters and sponsor some sort of breast feeding support class in the diaper section.  Or, better yet, because most of us have already been awake for nine hours by 8:30am, a happy hour back in electronics.  Put a good movie on those big screens, bust out some wine and just let her ride. 

Shopping with three kids under 30 months requires special provisions, one of which is that we now need two carts.  Nick thought it would be more fun for the girls to sit in the back of the cart, vs. putting Lila in the front and using the seat belt.  You know, the seat belt designed to keep kids from falling out of the cart.

Mere minutes into our trip I looked over to see Lila hanging over the side of the cart, and before you can say "life in a wheel chair" she did a full frontal flip over the edge, landing smack on her back.  It was the most awful sound, sort of like a sack of potatoes hitting the ground if a sack of potatoes had lungs. 

For a moment she just laid there and looked like she might do a snow angel or two but I realized she was just trying to figure out why she was suddenly looking at the ceiling.  Of course the fun part came next, where she started screaming and then I count the seconds until security escorts me to the nearest prison.

Once we got home Nick decided to take them on a walk around the block, where Lila promptly tripped and fell on the sidewalk, bloodying her cheek and nose.  And while I was upset for her pain I was more upset about the Christmas pictures we were supposed to take that afternoon.  I put a lot of effort into those outfits! 

Well, okay, she's actually wearing Ellie's outfit from last year.  Oh, and I forgot to make sure the shoes fit (they didn't) so she doesn't have any shoes, but still. 

I mean, not that Christmas pictures EVER turn out to meet my expectations anyway.



Yes, Ellie is playing with firewood, Hadley is screaming her balls off, and Lila looks like she was involved in a knife fight.  

And then there was this whole mess.



Where I heartlessly, callously forced her into the arms of a 300 pound bearded stranger and told her to ask Santa to bring Mommy some whiskey.

However, in Lila's defense, Ellie wasn't thrilled with the whole Santa idea either.

This was taken three seconds before she started crying so hard she almost threw up.

Fa la la la la. 


Mecca lecca high mecca hiney ho

|
The day after Hadley was born they took out my catheter and my worst fear was realized - I couldn't pee. 

Well now that's not entirely true. 

Being 24 hours post partum I had lots of worst fears, like the pediatrician coming in and telling me that Hadley has two butt holes like Lila did.  Which actually happened the next day, by the way.  See how this time I didn't freak out and think she was going to be paralyzed?   

Apparently this whole "two buttholes" (or deep sacral dimple, if you want to get all technical) thing runs in families and the doctor told us that if we went home and took a close look then Nick or I probably have one.  An activity that I thought would be a fun little way to pass the time once we got home, but Nick said some things are better left a mystery. 

My money's on him having the extra butt hole, by the way.

Anyhoo, as with the last time I had a baby, I ended up having to wear the catheter for four horrible days, all the while knowing that if I can't pee before I leave then I'm going to have to go home with this awful thing. 



Hang on - let me do some Amish Photoshop on that post-baby belly.  

There.  That's better.

If you've never worn a catheter, let me paint a little picture for you.  First, put in a tampon.  Then pull it out halfway.  Then tie a hose to the bottom of the tampon and connect it to the most embarrassing, personal thing that you wouldn't want to broadcast to the world that you can find.  For example, your own excrement would be a good example of a personal thing that you wouldn't want to broadcast to the world.

Then, do some fun things like take a shower, walk around or just sit down.  Careful to keep the bag below your crotch or all the pee might flow back in and... YOWSA!       

I hadn't planned on this happening again so I only packed one pair of shorts.  The fact that you have to thread it through your pant leg makes wearing long pants really hard.  And, we all know that you need more than one pair of shorts while in the hospital, for obvious reasons. 

I had lots of nurses to impress with my awesome post-baby pj wardrobe.   

Me:  I had a little accident and I need you to bring me some new shorts when you come visit this afternoon.

Nick:  What happened?

Me:  I don't want to get into all the details, but it looks like the Texas chainsaw massacre in my bathroom.

Nick:  Thanks for not getting into all the details.  Which shorts do you want?

Me:  Just bring the biggest, darkest ones you can find in my closet. 

(two hours later)

 Me:  What are these?

Nick:  The shorts you asked for.

Me:  (silence)

Me:  These are really short.  And white. 

Nick:  Yeah, you look hot in them. 

Me:  These are, like, my junior high cheerleading shorts. 

Nick:  I thought you were in marching band.

Me:  Let's not split hairs. 

Nick:  Well, I also brought these. 

Me: Hand me my old shorts, please. 

My hospital stay did have its high points, though.  Literally.  On Thursday evening just as one of our friends was visiting my ears started ringing and it sounded like everyone was yelling at me from the end of a tunnel.  I also kept forgetting where I was and my head felt detached from my body and all I could think of was that I felt like Jambie.  

I thought I was having a stroke, probably because the night before my friend Andi told me about this blog started by some guy whose wife died 24 hours post partum from a blood clot. 

Timing is not really her thing.   

Upon closer inspection, however, the nurse determined that I was not, in fact, having a stroke. 

I had taken too much percocet and was tripping balls. 

Luckily it only lasted for about two hours, and every time I started to feel like I was floating out of my body and freak out Nick kept reminding me that a lot of people pay good money for what I was feeling. 

So I decided to just ride it out and called down to the cafeteria and had them hook me up with some Raisinettes.

I'm sure you'll be relieved to know that my prayers were answered when I finally peed on my own the morning I was discharged.

And if you've made it this far through this post without either barfing or unfollowing then I know you're a true friend.  Or have had a baby and all this excrament talk is common dinner conversation at your house.         
 
 

The Labor: Part II - Tales From The Crypt

|
Well now that I've successfully scared the crap out of everyone and I'm pretty sure put on a hospital suicide watch, I'll get on with my story. 

As I was saying... in what might be considered by some to be the most selfless and unwavering act of marital loyalty ever, I continued to endure horrific back pain and held off on drinking the labor tea until Sunday so Nick could work the entire Thanksgiving weekend.  See what an awesome wife I am? 

Who knows if this tea actually works, or if it's "just a big coincidence and a gimmick but please don't drink it until after Thanksgiving weekend so I don't have to find a back up."  All I know is that three days after I started drinking it when I was pregnant with Lila my water broke (5 days before my due date), and two days after I started drinking it with Hadley I went into full on labor (11 days before my due date).

Tuesday morning started out like every other morning. I woke up at 4am feeling like someone had accidentally left their hatchet in my spine and the only way to get it back to them was to pee it out my butt.  But this time as I hobbled to the bathroom something felt different.  And by different I mean like a horrific stabby bladder charlie horse.

Throughout the morning the horrific stabby bladder charlie horses started coming every four minutes and before I knew it they had expanded from just the bladder to most of the area covered by my stretch marks.  They were only lasting about 20 - 30 seconds, and had not yet become crippling, so when I called J.T.'s office and was able to joke with the nurse we both agreed that a good plan was to decrease activity and increase fluid intake to see if they would taper off and I would make it to my scheduled c-section on December 6th.

Of course the idea that I might be going into labor was enough to send me into a frantic tailspin thinking about all the things I still needed to do, because god knows after the baby comes I will probably never leave the house again. 

Which is pretty much the opposite of decrease activity. 

It suddenly became IMPERATIVE that I immediately buy Ellie's Christmas shoes.

So after I dropped Ellie off at pre-school, Lila and I headed to Target to find the best darn pair of Christmas shoes that a major discount retailer could offer me.  Throughout our trip the contractions started to form a game plan and strengthen, so we hurried. 

But as we headed home I also remembered that we were almost out of soap.

This whole "decrease activity" thing was really just a big suggestion in my mind as I ran across the parking lot and into the grocery store carrying Lila on my shoulders.  Plus I was more than ready to get this party started, hence why I was drinking the tea in the first place. 

In the checkout line the contractions had figured out what they were supposed to do and I hunched over the credit card machine and did some pattern breathing while apologizing to the checker, who looked like she was on the verge of barfing.

When I got home I couldn't find a stop watch so I did the next best thing - download a contraction tracker app.  Unfortunately it was 99 cents wasted because I only got through two contractions before I decided that death was preferable to the pain I was feeling and I knew I needed to get to the hospital STAT. 

I also ignored all pre-surgery instructions and ate a cheese dog okay two cheese dogs, because I knew those rat bastards at the hospital wouldn't let me eat anything for a really long time after the c-section.  A split-second decision that I would later come to regret. 

By the time we arrived at the hospital, Nick was missing three fingers, an arm and several threats of a penis.

Looking back I always feel a bit foolish when I reflect upon my actions in situations such as this.  When not in extreme pain I realize that screaming "EPIDURAL BITCH!" to the nurse every time she asked me a question as she was trying to check me into the hospital might not have been appropriate. 

But in the moment it was my only option.  I needed her to understand that I was in more pain than anyone has ever been in and if she didn't do something about it then her family would pay the consequence.

What makes matters worse in these labor situations is that the labor bed is about as comfortable as laying on a metal 2 X 4.  I mean seriously, shouldn't this be the one time in our lives when the bed should look like a fluffy cloud?

Finally, FINALLY the angel of mercy came in and gave me an epidural so I could have some relief while I waited for my turn in the c-section line.

Everything after that was a blur.  I remember the nurses getting all judgey-judgey with my answer of "cheese dog" when they asked me about my last meal.  I remember everyone in the OR very happy with my choice in music for my baby birthing mix.  I remember having to have another epidural and then another spinal seconds before J.T. was about to cut into me because I still had feeling in my stomach.  I remember Nick telling me "it's a girl!" with just a shade of Ann Boleyn-type judgement in his voice.

And now we have the most perfect creature on planet Earth.

Three of the most perfect creatures on planet Earth. 



See how Ellie is already flashing her own little gang sign?  I think it's a "C" for crypts.  I'm currently planning our first girls trip to Long Beach to see Snoop's childhood home.

My friends and I celebrated the girl trifecta the next night in my hospital room by dying my hair pink, which gave me TONS of street cred with the hospital staff. 

  

And, because everyone loves a happy ending - what I told my friend Amy who sent me such a nice "hey please don't jump" email after my post last night, was what I'm learning... continuing to learn... both as I get some of my emotions out on paper and in my times of emotional upswing, is that while challenging now, I'm also giving my kids one of the greatest gifts in life - siblings. 

Which is something I'm sure they'll come to appreciate in about 25 years. 

And also, the fact that all of this has gone not according to my master plan has forced me to evaluate and accept life as it comes, flaws and all. 

I've learned how to re-prioritize and truly appreciate the "good" stuff in life. Which includes what I used to think were my weaknesses and shortcomings - things that have turned out to actually be some of my best qualities.

But most importantly, now I can drink wine. 

Things are looking up.      



     
      

The Labor: Part I - I Get Delirious

|
Spoiler alert... it's a girl!



Yesterday, November 29, at 3:58pm Hadley Marin joined our already estrogen-wealthy family, ensuring Nick's slow yet inevitable descent into Hormone Hell. 

I tell you this up front because I'm running on two hours sleep and I have no idea how many posts this momentous occasion might get milked into.  I'm most likely going to veer off into some really weird directions and I at least wanted to give you the important information up front in case you decide to bail when I start digging into the details of my spanking new pee bag.

So since you're already here, I think I'm going to start a few months back. 

And I say what I'm about to say with the full knowledge that it's impossible to take something back once it's been thrown out into the Blogosphere.  And with the full knowledge that one day Hadley will probably read this and I just might want to because she'll realize that I've not always been the world's most perfect Mom she thought I was, despite popular opinion.

But I also say this with the knowledge that I started this blog as a way to get, and give, support from you all.  And with the knowledge that one day she might even be dealing with the same emotions that I've been fighting.

So I'll just say it - the past few months I've been having a very difficult time with regard to this pregnancy. 

Nick and I knew we wanted to have a third baby, but 14 months after the last baby was not exactly what we had planned. 

I think this picture speaks a thousand words. 

 

When I brought Lila home from the hospital, Ellie was 16 months old and the first few months of her life I was definitely off my Mom game.  And by off my Mom game I mean I literally almost called the child abuse hotline on myself four times that I can remember.   

I was short with Ellie for acting out because she was terrified that I would abandon her in favor of a younger model.  I was short with Nick because he didn't get home fast enough.  I was even short with Lila, then just a newborn, because she wouldn't sleep enough and she completely thrashed my nipples. 

But most of all I was disappointed with myself because I couldn't do it as good as the other Moms.  As fast as the other Moms.  As smart as the other Moms.  As skinny as the other Moms.  I wasn't the Mom I had always envisioned myself to be.   

Every day I went to bed feeling like a big Mom failure and I didn't have any clue where to even begin to make it better.  So I usually ended up taking out my frustrations on my family.  And hating myself for it.

As the due date for this baby grew closer, so did my fear that I would be spending the first few months of 2012 again in a dark place.  Without the tools to be the Mom my awesome kids deserved.  Living every day in survival mode, then waking up one day to find they were six months older and somehow I had forgotten to stop and smell the roses.  Completely abandoning the idea of experiencing any joy in parenthood.   

My terror - and I don't use that word loosely, terror - for what would happen when this baby came completely overtook the happiness and excitement that should accompany a new baby's arrival.  I knew this baby deserved as much fanfare and celebration as the other two, yet I was unable to allow myself to experience the unconditional happiness that good parents should feel toward their unborn children.  And the accompanying guilt was all-consuming.   

See, I told you I might want to take some of this back once I've slept. 

One night I finally had the courage to tearfully admit this to Nick.  And together we worked out a game plan, deciding to hire a nanny three days a week once the baby came.  A cost that required us to re-finance our house so we could tap into some of the equity, but we both agreed that was a small price to pay to avoid Hannah Mayer landing the lead role on an episode of Snapped.

It wasn't the only solution to our challenges, but it was a very good start.  We're trying to work through some other issues, like how to find a balance between his demanding work schedule and his demanding family obligations.  And I'm trying to work through some of my own issues, like how to remember that Ellie is only two and she's going to throw a tantrum or two.  Or seventeen thousand. 

video
And how to laugh and just focus on how I can use it as a bribery tool when she's 16, and not focus on how much I suck as a Mom.

And how to just go ahead and expect Lila to take five massive dumps every day, all when we're either about to walk out the door when we're running really really late or when we're at Oktoberfest and I forgot to put more diapers in the diaper bag after I used the last one the week prior. 

So feeling better, though still a little apprehensive, about our impending bundle of joy, on Sunday - nine days before our scheduled c-section - I cracked open my first bag of red raspberry leaf tea.  AKA The Send You Into Labor Tea. 

And send me into labor it did.       

Nine and three quarters

|
Nick:  So explain to me again why you're drinking that tea to make yourself go into labor when you have a c-section scheduled next Tuesday?

Me:  Because I'm miserable!  I need to get this baby out STAT. 

Nick:  So why don't you just move up the c-section?

Me:  No!  I don't want the baby to come before it's ready!  I want it to come out on its own time.  You can't rush these things - it has to get good and cooked.

Nick:  Oh.  (turns back around to watch Ghost Adventures). 

Nick:  Why are you drinking the tea again? 

Me:  Look.  I am nine and three-quarters months pregnant.  It's not my job to make sense right now.  Now run to the store and get me some red velvet cupcakes and a container of bacon bits.  

The little black tent

|
If you read my Facebook status on Saturday you'll recall that I had a mini panic attack mid-afternoon because I had to go to to a black tie event for Nick's work and I was completely unprepared wardrobe wise.  I had a dress that I thought might work until I tried it on three days before and the six-inch gap in the zipper area gave me good reason to believe it would not work.   

So I did what I do best - ignore the problem and hope that it would just fix itself as I ate an entire batch of pumpkin cupcakes over the sink.

I spent Saturday morning walking around the neighborhood flexing my sphincter muscle trying to make myself fart in an effort to break my water.  When that didn't work I knew I was screwed.  My plan C was a nice pair of black yoga pants which I thought I could pull off at a black tie event by smothering the room in my unparallelled charm and wit but unfortunately icing leaves a lasting stain.

By some miracle of God, half a bottle of lotion, a pair of pliers, four hands, foggy memories from a free SCUBA lesson at Sandals about how to rid my lungs of air and a lunch of Coke Zero, it zipped.

Of course after about 1/2 hour I lost feeling in my feet and I think I saw a baby hand signaling SOS fly out of my crotch when I went to the bathroom later, but at that moment victory was mine.

I was feeling pretty damn good about myself until the drive home when I looked at the party picture that was taken of Nick and me when we arrived.  I mean... I know I'm pregnant and all, but Jesus. 

My boobs looked like two dead catfish stuck to my chest and my arms looked like two trash bags filled with cake batter.  And don't get me started about my chins, which have now completely wrapped themselves around my face.  Good lord. 

A single picture unleashed a chain reaction of depression about what's happened to my body, which was never really that great to begin with.  A single picture that is now rotting at the bottom of a landfill with no one to talk to except the empty container of icing sharing its trash bag home. 

I tried to think of my awesome kids, about how they are worth it.  Think back to the frustration and despair I felt when we were trying to get pregnant with Ellie.  But every positive thought just morphed itself into a giant stretch mark pointing to the cellulite which has now creeped all the way down to my knees.

It feels so narcissistic to get all upset about what pregnancy has done to my body.  And by pregnancy I mean existing on a diet of Chick Fil-A and pumpkin cupcakes.  The actual pregnancy can only be blamed for 60% of this damage. 

I guess the happy ending here is that once baby #3 comes I won't actually have time to eat and my once mediocre figure will be back before you know it. 
      

While I'm away...

|
It's official.  December 6th at 11:30am the red curtain (aka my uterus) will part and Mayer Child #3 will make his or her debut onto planet earth. 

While I'm spending my 5-day vacation in Percocetville catching up on celebrity gossip, Nick will have a lot of one-on-one time with the girls.  A thought which makes me a little uneasy considering when I left for a girls' weekend in August I came back to find about 40 Hershey's wrappers in the trash and noticed Ellie had developed a permanent eyebrow twitch.

Also I'm sure you all remember that other time I came home to find he had safety pinned my baby to the sheet while she slept to protect her from SIDS.   

So I thought it might be beneficial to leave him with a list of helpful reminders.  A public list of helpful reminders so I have some sort of legal leverage should something go terribly wrong. 

1.  I don't care if they are baby teeth "and they're just going to fall out anyway."  Brush them.  Twice a day.  With a toothbrush.  And toothpaste.  Lila loves to have her teeth brushed.  Ellie can get a little squirrly sometimes about brushing her teeth and occasionally we have to do it "the hard way":  First, sit on the toilet stool and wrap your legs around her hips so as to render her immobile.  With your left hand, pin her arms down while you lock her head into place between your ear and shoulder, making sure to pinch her nose shut with your chin, blocking the airway good and tight.  Once her mouth opens and she gasps for air, brush like hell.   

2.  Comb Ellie's hair every morning.  I usually do this after the brushing of the teeth because if you do in fact have to brush the teeth the hard way it will inevitably mess up her hair as she tries to wriggle free to breathe.

3.  I know they think it's the !most fun ever!, but please don't run around the grocery store pushing the cart up and down the aisles like a NASCAR ass hole.  The grocery store has become my primary channel for a social outlet and many days the workers provide my only adult interaction.  I've worked very hard over the past two years to establish a reputation there for myself and I don't want it tarnished because you accidentally plow over some old lady.

4.  Dance practice is in the living room from 3pm - 4pm.  No exceptions.  Lila has a lot of work to do on that booty slap.

5.  You know that thing you do where you hold them upside down by their ankles behind your back and swing them around and I always say "please please please for the love of Christ stop doing that you're going to give me a heart attack?"  Yeah, don't do that. 

6.  Open all pieces of mail.  If something has an envelope inside it usually means you're going to have to do something with it.  First, log on to our bank account and click 'online banking.'  You know what?  Forget it.  Just bring these pieces of mail to me when you visit.

7.  Sesame Street is on at 9.  You're probably going to want to feel like drinking vodka about 15 minutes in.  But you can't because there's a good chance you're going to run out of milk at some point during the day and have to drive to the grocery store.  If you can, try to wait to drink until 4pm.  Now that daylight savings time is over you can usually trick them into going to bed at 5:30.

8.  Lila says 4 words and does 1 sign - down, yeah, vitamin, yellow and signs more.  At first I thought her choices foolish and impractical.  Personally, I would have opted for something more self-serving or at least helpful, like please give me food (middle finger sign), or the house is burning (loud whistle).   However, you'll find that observing the context and paying close attention to her varied inflections these 4 words pretty much cover all the bases.

I could go on for days but really, this is all just gravy.  I would be thrilled beyond belief to come home and find they're both alive and in one piece.  That's really all I can ask of myself each morning when I wake up.  I consider each day a victory if someone didn't swallow a penny or starve to death.

This is my last pregnancy and I can't go through this again to make any replacements.   

Another one bites the dust

|

Over the weekend we completed the last of the necessary evils to prepare for Mayer child #3.  We bought a mini van.

My 7-year covert mission, Operation Trap Nick, is now complete.


She's a beaut, huh? 

The whole experience was surreal, especially the part where I abandoned Sissy Spacek, my Honda Accord and vehicular partner of eight years, naked and stripped of her license plates alone in the dealership parking lot.  I'm sure the sales guy will keep his promise that she'll go to a good home. 



When I informed my friends of our decision to buy a mini van, the looks on their faces was equivalent to me telling them that sometimes I like to eat kitten brains for dinner.  

One by one they each tried to talk me out of it and convince me that an SUV with third row seating would do the trick.  An option we did consider, but with three car seats the SUVs weren't wide enough for me to easily maneuver my child bearin' hips to the back. 

Also, the mini van's automatic doors and low floorboard were pretty appealing features, right up there with listening to NPR on the sweet surround sound while wearing my snowman sweatshirt making a late night grocery store run for milk.  

When I explained this to my friends they all lowered their heads and whispered solemnly, "Well, I guess you're right.  I'm sorry.  At least it's not forever." 

As Nick and I drove out of the parking lot Saturday night with that old familiar "I don't know what just happened in that negotiation room but I'm pretty sure I've been ass raped" feeling, I felt like more of a grown up than I did when I had Ellie.        

20-year-olds do have babies.  20-year-olds do not drive mini vans. 

Somehow it seemed fitting that the song on the radio as we drove home was Hits From Da Bong.  We just sort of drove in silence while Cypress Hill reminded us of a life for which we were now entirely too uncool. 

Driving Ellie to pre-school this morning with this beast strapped to my back I felt like I had completed a rite of passage.  Right or wrong, just like owning a Jaguar or Harley there is a stigma associated with owning a mini van.  

I'm sensible.  I value convenience.  I'm probably not drunk.  I drive a car with a hallway because I have a shit load of kids.

I can already feel the van starting to take over my soul.  Now if you'll excuse me I need to go hot glue something.             




Somewhere between 35 and 36

|
This morning I had my 35 week ultrasound to make sure the baby is growing properly and help determine a date for the c-section. 

I had an inkling this little fella (or whatever the female variation of fella is... fanny?) was on the larger side, mainly due to the sensation of a combine harvester crushing my spinal discs together every time I attempt to walk, get up off the floor or make a desperate and panicked leap into oncoming traffic.

Oh, and there's also this... The Stomach That Stops People Dead in Their Tracks and Elicits Comments Everywhere We Go:

 

Meet queso. 

Weighing in at 8 pounds, measuring 40 1/2 weeks and femur bones that are off the chart, its interests include:  insulin shots, writing pointed letters to airline management for insisting it buy two seats on a flight to Orlando and licking mayonnaise off the game controller while simultaneously defeating its own World of Warcraft high score.

For the first time since I found out I was pregnant I was thanking God that this baby isn't coming out my business end. 

Of course my relief was quickly replaced by concern for the baby's health, and this afternoon as I washed down my McDonald's #1 with a chocolate milk shake I wondered if there was something I could have done differently to put this baby in a healthier weight class.

After finishing off last night's leftover mashed potatoes I decided probably not, and I shouldn't be stressing myself out with such thoughts.

I saw the nurse practitioner after my appointment, who will share my chart with J.T. and we'll get a date scheduled next week.  All she said, after a sympathetic laugh, was that I'm definitely not making it to my due date.

At this rate I don't even know if I'll make it to tonight.  I think I can feel this thing scratching at my tonsils with its toenails.     



Grimace

|
This morning I woke up and my life flashed before my eyes. 

Not the life that I've already lived, mind you, filled with free will and pancakes fast food drive throughs.  But my future life.  My future life making license plates, do-it-yourself tattoos and avoiding prison gang rape. 

Ellie was gone. 

I vaguely remembered her coming into my room around Why Oh Why Are You Awake O'clock asking to watch cartoons.  And like any good Mom I told her the cartoons were still sleeping, rolled over and went back to my awesome dream that my sister-in-law married a pro wrestler which resulted in me frequently turning up looking fabulous in the pages of Us Weekly.  I also vaguely remembered her crawling in bed with me right before I drifted off.

I woke up a few hours later to an empty bed and silence.  Which was bad.  Real bad. 

What I should have woken up to was the sound of a 2-year-old emptying her Diaper Genie into a dresser drawer or a certain someone jumping up and down in her bed in an attempt to catapult through her window to freedom. 

I leaped out of bed, which is not an easy feat considering my back has passed the point of no return and getting out of bed usually takes about 20 minutes, a Clydesdale and a biting stick. 

I pushed through the pain, forcing one foot in front of the other, and in a very Grimace like fashion flailed my arms in circles on either side of me to help propel me forward. 

She wasn't in her bed or in her room.  Or anywhere upstairs.  I hobbled (pants-less, mind you - I also vaguely remembered kicking them off last night because this belly becomes an inferno after 2am) downstairs. 

My frantic screams of "ELLIE!" as I limped from room to room were met with silence.  I ran, breathless, into the playroom, where she was laying calmly on her stomach doing a puzzle.

"What are you doing?"  I asked, acting as cool as possible while trying not to pass out from a combination of pain, panic and eating nothing but Halloween candy for the past 17 hours. 

"Playing with blankie,"  She said, like it was the most obvious thing in the world. 

"Oh, okay,"  I said, clutching my chest and getting into the fetal position. 

Then I had an idea. 

"Hey,"  I asked, lifting my head off the carpet.  "Wanna learn how to make pancakes all by yourself?"
 




Chocolate Rain

|
So last Thursday I experienced two awesome "firsts":

1.  Ellie vomited for the first time.  I knew this day would come - I just didn't expect it to be in the middle of St. Louis Bread Company and completely coat me in regurgitated chocolate milk.  From collar bone to knee, yo. 

The worst part about it is that I was wearing my "special" maternity pants and really hoping I could avoid washing them for the next 6 weeks because I don't know if they'll survive a trip through the laundry. 


2.  A mere matter of hours after cleansing myself from the liquid demon, I got to put on my fab Halloween costume 


and head down to the annual Coolfire Media party with my friends Dan and Angie and meet Young M.C.

video

As you can see, by "meet" I mean avoid his terrified look of panic as he motioned for security as I rushed onto the stage to put myself upon him.  I did this despite the fact that I had been having contractions all day long and promised Nick I wouldn't dance on the stage like I did last year with Tone Loc.  

Snookie, by the way.  The answer to your question is Snookie.

As usual the party was off the chain and for a few short hours I forgot all about that one time when I was wiping someone else's vomit out of my crotch, which I couldn't see by the way, because my huge pregnant belly was obstructing my view.

The entire duration of the party I was showered with attention and had many interesting conversations, including:

Man:  Is that a real baby belly?

Me:  Yes, sir! 

His Wife:  What the hell are you doing asking her that?  What if it wasn't and she were just really fat?  She would be pissed!

Ahem. 

Despite my temporary escape from reality, my life station came catapulting back to me in the form of contractions that were getting more painful and closer together as the night went on.  I was beginning to think the running man was possibly not the best choice in 8-months-pregnant activity.

My friend Angie and I stayed for the next act, Rob Base, but I began to fear the baby was going to come sooner rather than later so we left before the final show, which happened to be Coolio.  When I was complaining to my sister about missing Coolio she said, "well, if you'd a had that baby there it definitely would not have been Coolio."

True.

By the time I got home, washed what is probably toxic fetus brain paint off my belly and laid down, the contractions were every two minutes.

Nick seemed especially concerned.

Me:  I've had 6 contractions in 10 minutes!  I'm getting a little freaked out.

Nick:  Well, let's just wait a little longer before we zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Me:  Nick?  NICK?  Did you just fall asleep?

Nick:  No - I TOLD you I'd rake the yard tomorrow.  Now pass the salt.

I was on my own.  Luckily now that I was laying down and not busting out my best 90's dance moves with a box tied around my neck they calmed down.

Though I'm pretty sure the baby is going to come out completely terrified of anything with a back beat.   
  


The Great Candy Exchange

|
As my kids grow older I continue to be happily surprised by the number of opportunities I have to exploit them for my own personal benefit. 

Halloween is a perfect example. 

Of course, I could save myself the trouble of driving to seven different stores to assemble the world's most perfect DIY SCUBA diver costume and just buy a few bags of my own miniature candy bars.  However, I beleive the sooner my children are forced to experience public humiliation the easier their high school years will be. 

Plus I like teaching them valuable lessons like 'what's yours is mine so hand over your candy, homie.' 

Now we all know nothing beats a good mini Butterfinger.  While someone rubs your feet.  In a hot tub.  But I think we can also agree that nothing's worse than the crippling regret of indigestion that inevitably accompanies downing an entire bag of chocolate.  And, let's be honest, we all know you have no self-control when that pile of soon-to-be cellulite is staring you in the face. 

So what's a girl to do?

I'm sure the thought of parting with your hard earned candy is enough to leave you shuddering in the back of your pantry.  But listen up, saddle bags - it's for the greater good to get that stuff out of your house STAT.  And by greater good I mean the good of your ass.  And the good of keeping your kids' teeth from rotting out of their head if you choose to share. 

This Saturday (November 5) from 10am - 2pm you can bring your leftover (or new) unopened, packaged candy to the Delta Dental Health Theatre (727 North First Street downtown) and they'll send it to our troops overseas.  It's really a win/win - save money on liposuction while supporting our soldiers! 

There will be tons of fun stuff for the kids to ease the sting of relinquishing your candy - interactive games, face painting, balloon art, shows, prizes and a meet and greet with Dora, Diego, Buzz Lightyear, the Tooth Fairy and the Delta Dental Health Theatre characters.  You can also get one extra wear out of that Halloween costume you can't beleive you paid $20 for only two hours' use. 

Area schools, clubs and classrooms can get involved too - the organization that donates the most candy (by weight) will receive free admission to a 2012 show at the Delta Dental Health Theatre.  And the school with the highest attendance will receive a $250 donation to buy books for their library.

I hope to see you all there!  I'll be the one singing "I Will Always Love You" into the candy barrel.
   



My ghost story

|
The following is a 100% true story; a departure from my normal baby poop fodder in celebration of Halloween.  Have a happy and safe one!

When I was a kid my Dad worked nights.  Which was really a huge inconvenience for me because my Mom forced us all to eat dinner together before he left at 4:00, just as the neighborhood games were getting warmed up.  Before my lunch even had a chance to digest. 

It was the summer of 1983 - the year after the movie Poltergeist was released.  At 7 years old I was too young to see the movie but the glimpses I saw on TV gave me my first introduction to what a real-life ghost might look like. 

Sometimes when I think back to that night I wonder if those previews had some sort of influence on me, and perhaps tricked my mind into thinking it was seeing something it didn't.  But then I remember the sheer terror I felt and know that it was nothing someone so young could have fabricated.

Like usual, that night my Dad left for work after dinner. 

At 3:30am I was awakened by a noise downstairs.  It sounded like someone shuffling around.  Though he was usually in bed by 1:30, I assumed it was my Dad and I laid awake for a moment as a formality - hoping to put my mind at ease.  My ears strained as I desperately listened for another noise like the refrigerator door shutting or a familiar sounding muffled cough to make sure it wasn't a burglar. 

But I heard nothing more for several minutes.

Just as I convinced myself that it was the cat and started to drift back off to sleep, I heard a creak on the stairs that jerked me back awake.  We lived in a split level house, three bedrooms and a bathroom on the upper floor.  My room was at the end of the hall.  Again I laid in bed, a little frightened now, but still telling myself that it was just my Dad, up later than usual.

Then I heard what sounded like someone slowly dragging their feet down the hall.  The noise was so quiet that I had to hold my breath to hear it.

Like any good horror movie I couldn't just pull the covers up over my head and go back to sleep.  Though the thousands of times I've thought about this night I wish I would have.

I sat up in bed and flipped on the lamp sitting on my headboard.  Listening once again, I called out to the hallway, "Dad?" 

For a moment I heard the shuffling stop, then after a couple of seconds resume again, my ears barely able to make out the sound.  My heart was hammering in my chest as I prayed that my Dad would just pop his head in my doorway and tell me to go to sleep.

But what came through my doorway wasn't my Dad.

What came through my doorway had the appearance of an old man, but I knew it wasn't human.  I could see through it and it looked as if it was being projected into the air by an old movie projector, flashing the image on and off so quickly that it appeared to be moving in slow motion. 

It was dressed in a gray jogging suit, and was jogging through my door right toward me.  When we made eye contact it smiled and its mouth opened slightly as if it was trying to tell me something.

Of course I'd be damned if I was going to wait around to see what that something was.  I dove under my covers, pulling every stuffed animal I had close, hoping they would offer some sort of protection.

I don't know how long I laid under my covers awake; it seemed like forever.  I was terrified that if I pulled them back the ghost would be hovering above me and eat my face. 

I must have fallen asleep because I remember waking up and being ever so thankful that I saw a crack of sunlight through the blanket.  My mind replayed the events which happened a few hours before, and before I removed the covers from my head I told myself that it was probably just a dream.  A horrible nightmare that I was happy to escape.

I knew that when I pulled the covers back if my bedside light was still on that it was real.  Slowly I peeled them back, willing the light to be off.  Please let the light be off.

But it wasn't off.  It shone brighter than ever, cheerily greeting me with, "Well good mornin', there missy!  What do you think about that?  Not so scary now that it's light out but guess what?  It's going to be dark again before you know it!  What are you going to do then?"

I didn't know.  Seven years old is around the same time that you start questioning things that you had previously held as truth, like Santa Claus and if babies really came from magical fairies (what?  Isn't that what everybody's parents tell them?) so I wondered if this was one of those things about the world that adults would eventually disclose when you were old enough to handle it.  Was every kid visited by a jogging spirit in the night?  Would he bring me presents some day?  Would he eat my brain?

Of course when I tried to tell my Mom about it the next morning she brushed it off. 

"Oh Hannah, it was probably just a dream."

"No, my light was on... it was real."

"Mmm hmmm, right."

I wasn't surprised that she didn't believe me.  Besides, what was she supposed to do even if she did?  Call Ghostbusters? 

A few months later it was time to pick Halloween costumes.

"What do you want to be this year?"  My Mom asked.

"I don't know."

"Well, what's the scariest thing you can think of?"

"A jogger."

And so it was.


We lived in that house for 13 more years, and I never again saw anything like that, either in the house or since we moved. 

However, I kept a secret stash of cotton balls hidden in my jewelry box and put them in my ears every night because the faint yet persistent sound of feet shuffling across my carpet became maddening.       



The Mexican

|
On Saturday I was a speaker at Show Me The Blog, a regional blogging conference where bloggers come from miles around to talk about, well, blogging.     

My friend Danyelle asked me to speak back in March so I had plenty of time to daydream about breezily delivering joke after joke, leaving the crowd in chaotic hysterics and one woman in the back clutching her chest, letting out one final guttural laugh before falling over dead. 

Of course those images quickly ran for the hills, leaving me exposed and stark naked as I walked into the conference room and saw over 100 people pulling out their laptops and actually expecting something in return for their hard earned 75 bucks. 

And any shred of false confidence I gained by listening to Gangster's Paradise on repeat for the 45 minute drive to the hotel was dashed as my friend Stef, who spoke immediately before me, talked about how she's been featured in People, Better Homes and Gardens, writes for Paula Deen and has about 700,000 people visiting her site every month.

As she spoke my mind flipped through my own lame ass PowerPoint deck.

I mean... this should get a laugh, right? 


Or this?  It's funny because it's true, see?  SEE?  LAUGH DAMN YOU! 
  
Shit. 

I wondered if I could butter up my belly and silently shimmy out the bathroom window, into the parking lot and directly to the airport where I would fly to Minnesota and assume a new identity.  It was the best I could do considering I didn't have my passport and only $153 in my bank account. 

Lunch was sponsored by Hardees/Red Burrito, and was served right before my presentation.  The pregnant part of my brain got into a major fight with the nervous part of my brain about whether or not it was a good idea to dump a bunch of spicy beans onto my small intestine right before a major speech.  

As usual, the pregnant brain won the battle but lost the war as I gripped the handicapped rail, bit down on my cell phone and expelled something that meowed in the toilet moments before I was supposed to go on stage.  

Despite forgetting a key joke about Steve Jobs locking himself in the bathroom and crying for three hours because Bill Gates wrote something nasty about him, everything went well and I was even able to work in the phrase "tap the meat keg". 

A lingual urban legend only dreamed about by world-renowned orators everywhere.   

 

Of course the glow from my self-appointed celebrity status got a bit dim an hour after I got home as I was wiping someone else's snot off my pants. 

But it was a nice change from my every day Mom gig to be the loudest one in the room, if only for an hour.