Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Steam for a Cure

The three of us huddled into the steaming bathroom, shower running behind the ducky curtain. Ten minutes in a steamy room is supposed to help clear up Avonlie's congestion. She doesn't mind. She loves the bathroom because she thinks it means she's about to have her bath: her favorite part of the day. I peer into the empty tub and look down at the white bottom, which was mostly grey and scummy when we first moved in. The can of Ajax and some "green" cleaning product stand beside the tub on the tiled floor.

"Have you noticed how I've brushed the dirt out of the tub?" I ask Dustin, looking back to him sitting on the toilet seat, baby asleep in his arms.
"Have you noticed how I brushed the dirt off my shoulder?" He responds.

It's conversations like this that make up our days. Thank God for our ridiculous dialogue. If not for it, we'd be waxing scholarship all the time! You know, cus that's what two Ph.D. candidates/ABDs do all the time! ;)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Avonlie has a Cold

I have a sick baby. I've never had one of these before so it's more than the awful it would, I'm guessing, ordinarily be. It's beyond awful...for me, not so much for Avonlie.

All winter long, we have squirreled this child away, making every effort possible to keep her from the cold, from the sickness that we know is lurking outside of our door throughout this season and we did a pretty good job of doing it. But it's not possible to keep her well forever and as of Friday, the day after her 9 week birthday, Avonlie has been enduring her first ever cold.

It started with a rattling in her throat, a little coughing here and there and everyone telling me that she was fine. While I'll admit, in the very beginning of these last nine weeks I worried a lot..."Why is she sneezing? Is it normal for her to be sleeping all the time? Is she going to get sick now that she has been running errands in the car all day long...etc.," I've definitely chilled out. I no longer stay awake all night long despite her sleeping through it, just to make sure she's breathing. When she lets out a pronounced "Waaah" I pretty much know what it is she wants and can hook her up with whatever it is. But when I heard the rattling of phlegm in her throat on Friday and the coughing that it caused, I knew she was on her way to getting sick.

And I was right. Avonlie has a cold.

By Friday early evening, Dustin conceded he, too, believed she was coming down with something. My parents, on the phone in New York, doubted it, still. My negative answer to the question "Does she have a temp?" seemed to them as if it should prove that, therefore, she was not "sick." But the rattling not only persisted, it grew stronger. Come Saturday, Dustin and I were suctioning out her nose with the automatic, press-button aspirator every hour. By Saturday night, it was more like twice every hour. I put out a subtle cry for help on Facebook saying that I hoped the coughing, sneezing and congestion didn't amount to more than a mild cold and my subtle hints and description of her symptoms brought on the much-welcomed advice from all the mothers that had come before me. The consensus? Vicks on her feet and a cool mist humidifier.

Dustin ran out for the necessities.

While D ran out for supplies, I checked her symptoms on every hit google presented. I searched "Vicks on baby feet," "2-month old baby with cough" and so on. The most helpful site was my own pediatrician's which gave symptoms and actions they called for, including "When to go to the ER," "When to call your doctor" and "When to call your doctor during normal office hours," among other options. This appeased me the most because, according to the website, we were nowhere near needing to go to the ER or call our doctor...ever. I feared the ER most thanks to the google hits that presented reader comments that read: "I took my infant to the ER and they had to give him a needle and there was SO MUCH BLOOD!!! SO MUCH! I never SAW SO MUCH BLOOD!" and "You'd never believe how much blood an infant can lose until your baby has to have a needle." "Oh. My. God." I thought, looking at Avonlie asleep on the bed next to me, surrounded by the mucus-filled aspirator, jumbo bottle of saline and digital ear thermometer. Panic rose inside of me as I imagined our trip to the ER. I grabbed my phone, texted: 'HURRY HOME WITH THE GOODS! NOW!!!' to Dustin, as if we would somehow be able to avoid a trip to the ER where they would inevitably drain our infant of all of her blood if he would just get home with the Vicks and humidifier in the next twenty seconds. Before I hit "send," I heard it. The distinct, unmistakable sound of my daughter laughing in her sleep. There, beside me, Av's little head swayed back and forth, her mouth wide open, exposing her smiling gums. Her cheeks spread wide, making room for the smile on her face. Eyes closed, belly shaking with joy, she slept: temperature free, a little congested, but happy.

Avonlie, sick, but smiling and laughing her way through it.

I deleted the crazed message and Dustin eventually came home. The humidifier was a bust, but the Vicks seemed to help. I was up all night, though Avonlie slept with a bit of restlessness from congestion, but soundly otherwise, straight through, only waking when her paranoid mother woke her up to suction out her nose or force feed her so she'd remain hydrated. It was like the first two weeks of her life all over again. Just when I was starting to calm down and settle into this first-time mother thing like an old pro, she launches me, unwittingly, back into paranoid, nervous wreck mode. I express this sentiment to my mother who is in New York with my doctor father (of course they're away when my baby gets sick and I whine that it's the time when "I need them most!"). I can hear her smile on the other end of the phone as she says, "Aaah, daughter. Welcome to motherhood!"

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What's in a Name and The Art of Burping

What's in a Name?

Honing in on 24 hours after I delivered, Dustin and I finally decided on a name. It's not that we didn't come prepared with a name or even a few of them, it's just that none of them seemed to fit our daughter perfectly. They either seemed too small or too weak to hold up to such a large and strong, yet delicate-featured little baby. We each made lists and poured over names, baby books, favorite characters, authors, words. We threw out possibilities like "Serendipity" and "Osprey" and "Quinn," palindromes like "Hannah" and "Ava," which we'd all but decided upon until we saw our little bundle. The only thing we knew for certain was the middle names, they were decided upon months earlier, but the first name was a whole different story. "Maya" would be her first middle name, named for my sister who passed away in infancy and "Victoria" would be her second middle name, named for her grandmothers--one who is named Victoria and the other whose confirmation name is the same.

Eventually, we made lists separately, then together, then separately again. Then we narrowed our lists and rated one another's lists saying things like: "Natalie reminds me of the girl who disappeared in Aruba. I can't think of anything but her when I hear it and I don't want to brand our daughter with that name" or "That name doesn't have enough syllables to sound aesthetically pleasing with our last name..." until we finally settled on Avonlie. Of course, then there was the issue of spelling her name. 


We counted letters, considered pronunciations and chose the last. We have since reconsidered, but there's no going back now, so "Avonlie" it is. It was only after her name was decided on that someone wrote on Dustin's Facebook page "Oh, like Anne of Avonlea?" Huh. Right. 

I first remember hearing the name "Avonlie" while waiting in line behind a girl at MU for coffee. The barista wanted the girl's name to write on the cup and she said it, spelled it, then said it again (a true spelling bee champion's trait!) "Avonlea" and so it was, forever branded in my memory, only to be born again while seeking the perfect name for our child. 

Needless to say, not everyone loved our choice of name, but she's not everyone's child, so we shrugged off the naysayers and complimented ourselves on finding the perfect name for our perfect daughter!

Avonlie Maya Victoria
The Art of Burping
We celebrated the new year from my hospital bed with the baby mostly asleep and the two of us toasting with a bit of champagne my family brought along to toast with earlier in the evening before heading off to their own NYE celebration in Hilton Head. I was properly disturbed by what remains of poor Dick Clark and even more bothered by the performance by NKOTB and some other boy band that we happened across while in search of Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve. When we finally went to bed, Avonlie arose so my night was shot until morning...I fell asleep just in time to meet the pediatrician for the first time, who appeared beside my bed looking well-rested and ready to go. 

While he and my husband went over some logistics and I tried, hazy-minded, to keep up, it occurred to me that Avonlie was asleep and I had a few moments where I could get to the bathroom. Hastily, I left D and the dr. to their discussion and slipped away for just a few moments. What I found when I returned baffled even my exhausted mind. The doctor remained where I left him, by the side of my bed with Avonlie draped over his forearm, head bobbing with each slap to the back he gave her. And there Dustin stood, behind the doctor, slapping his hand onto the doctor's back rhythmically. "Is that too hard? It seems like you're hitting her pretty hard? Is this hard enough?" Dustin was asking. I had stumbled upon my husband burping our pediatrician.

Later he would tell me that the doctor never actually told him whether it was too soft or too hard--the force of the blows he administered to his back while mock burping, but I would think about it and laugh again and again every time. (D definitely got the hang of burping...he could perform various methods, one of which would almost always yield a result, though my rate of success is much lower, despite how many techniques I try.) I had never seen or heard of a man burping another man. Our doctor had continued talking as if it wasn't even happening and no one seemed surprised, including me, as I climbed back into the hospital bed and watched the men complete their discussion. It wasn't until later we laughed about it.

That's what a lot of our hospital stay was like...not getting things until they were over and we were home. Only weeks later would I look back on the strange occurrences and wonder how I missed the humor in them at the time. This would especially hit home when tasked with learning how to deal with the Medela. If you don't know what that is, try google or wait for the next installment.

Monday, January 24, 2011

And then there were three...

Labor? and Delivery

It happened on a Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010.

After suffering a cold throughout the week (a cold bad enough for me to actually leave my office and work from home one day), I found out from my doctor that I was actually already in labor, as well, for perhaps two days. Inactive, beginning stages up until that Wednesday. Labor that would turn into birth on that Thursday.

Checking into the hospital just after noon.
On Thursday, we were instructed to head to the hospital. I had purchased a Cinnabon the night before with plans to eat it sometime on Thursday, but the move from doctor to hospital admission came with instructions not to eat, so the Cinnabon sat in the car.

We checked in at around half past noon and spent the next 7 hours waiting, breathing through contractions that inevitably led to the decision to have an epidural around 4 and the final instructions on "how to push" around 7:20 pm, followed finally by the birth of our 8 pound 3 ounce, 19 inch-long baby girl at 7:53 pm. When the summary of how many minutes it took to push out our girl was given to me, I wanted to find and tell the nurse who had told me just as I started to push that it'd probably take somewhere between 1-2 or more hours to get our baby out. "First mothers just about always take somewhere between 1-2, usually more, hours to push their babies out." So hunker down, is essentially the tone she gave me as she and a few other cast members shuffled around the room setting things up. Thirty-three minutes later, the doctor wasn't completely in her attire for the delivery, but the baby was mostly out and the nurse advised her to get on with the birthing while she (the nurse) finished tying her (the doctor) into her birthing gear.

And then she was here. Avonlie Michael (though it took us around 17 hours to come up with her name!)

She was a swollen, blue mass of fleshy wrinkles. Silent and observant. We didn't hear her make a peep for the first few minutes after her birth, but her grandparents (my parents and D's mom) cried from the distance beside her as they weighed her and looked her over carefully (ordinarily, they would have given her directly to me, but they found meconium--stool--in the amniotic fluid so they had to have a NICU dr. there to check her out thoroughly when she was delivered to make sure she didn't have any of it in her system and all throughout labor, they ran a saline solution flush into my uterus to clean out the meconium as best they could). So I didn't get to see or hold her until they were sure she was ok. Since I didn't get to see her and my dr. was still stitching me up, I sent D over, who was reluctant to leave me and even more hesitant to see our baby for the first time without me. I insisted he "needed" to go..."They're all saying how beautiful she is, D. They might be lying. Go see if our daughter is really as beautiful as they say. Lots of babies are born ugly. Go find out for real if she's one of them."

Of course I was mostly kidding. It's true that some babies are born super ugly, but I wouldn't have cared if she was one of them or not. I just wanted one of us to get over there to see her and since I couldn't, he had to!

So he went and she was. Beautiful, that is. See for yourself:

A Pledge and Some Observations

My brother, sister-in-law, my niece and nephew came in to see her soon after. Jacob, my nephew/godson, is only two years-old so he and Avonlie are ideally separated age-wise (in my estimation, that is, since my brother and sister and I are separated by two years and all seemed to work out nicely for us!). He was thrilled to be a new "big brother" even though, at first, he cried when they told him Avonlie was a girl, but there were no signs of those tears when he came in to meet her. Nothing but smiles. He was so solemn when he pledged himself to care for her as a big brother. Genevieve was shyer, which I expected, but both were thrilled to have a new cousin/sister.

Baby Girl celebration cake for me and Dustin!
Truth be told, I was totally surprised Avonlie was a girl. The entire pregnancy everyone insisted she'd be a boy and I was the first one to say it in the beginning. But Dustin was tried and true to his feelings: girl. He just knew it and it turns out he was right. The hospital brought us a tiny little cake to celebrate her birth when we made our way to the maternity ward. Avonlie stayed with us both nights in the hospital and all day long, only leaving our sights to be taken to the nursery for a bath, a hepatitis B vaccination and some check-ups. Otherwise, babe had on a security bracelet that would've locked down the whole hospital if someone had tried to take her out of our ward. Each time they took her, they checked her bracelets against ours for an identical identifying number all of our bracelets were branded with.

Identifying tags on her ankles (see the huge security one!?!) and her adorable little baby feet!
The First Night

Our daughter, who throughout that first night and most of the next day remained nameless, ate immediately following her birth until she fell asleep. The nurses swaddled her and put her in a clear, giant tupperware version of a bassinette that then resided directly next to me in the hospital room. They found a "cozy" cot for Dustin to sleep on and we were set for the night. "You might want to set an alarm for 3 a.m. or so," the nurse advised when setting us up for the night. "She should eat every 2-3 hours and will probably be very sleepy tonight and need to be woken. Also, someone will be in every hour to check your vitals."

They weren't kidding. Every hour, they were in to check me and the baby. I didn't need an alarm to wake me at 3 because the nurse did to take my vitals, which she then insisted were too low and had to be taken again. When my blood pressure and heart rate were "still low" (bp: 88/60; hr: 45) she had me get out of the bed to perform a few minor circus tricks ("Stretch your arms and walk around a bit..."). Let me just say that 1-getting out of bed after the epidural-numbness wore off was not fun or painless, nor were the tricks I was asked to perform and 2-even after performing them my blood pressure remained low (which I explained was not actually "low" but "normal" for me) and so did my heart rate (we got it up to 55, but my resting heart rate is ordinarily around 60). I tried to explain that these numbers were not out of the ordinary, but she was concerned and seemed to come back even more often throughout the night. No matter, Avonlie was also awake and no amount of feeding her sufficed. That babe was ANGRY and remained so for the majority of our stay in the hospital and our first night home.


Having not swaddled anything since my sister was an infant when I learned to swaddle the baby doll Mom gave me in lieu of allowing me to "have" my sister, (as had been the promise when they told me I was going to "have a little brother or sister," the baby doll being a disappointing substitution for the sister I was promised--a promise I would try to insist they make good on in the year or two following Sara's birth, to no avail. A promise that would inevitably end in me ripping my baby sister's arm out of her socket in her toddler years in my attempt to pull (aka-drag) her around by the arm since I had been trained to handle her on a doll instead of on the actual infant--a clear injustice to my child-self and, of course, my sister), I was out of practice. The way I thought we should swaddle was not sufficient and the blanket bunched in a mess around our daughter. She wailed more angrily with each failed attempt, as if lamenting the parents she'd been born to--parents who didn't know crap about swaddling an infant. Dustin and I looked at each other knowing she was right on this one.

Note the sleeping baby under the nurse's expert swaddle.
Finally, he asked one of the influx of nurses to teach us how to swaddle. She showed us twice, and magically Avonlie stopped crying immediately after she finished. "Do it again!" We were in awe of her magical swaddling prowess. She'd unwrap the baby, who would then cry, and slowly, step-by-step demonstrate and verbally explain how to swaddle our infant.

We felt confident we, too, could do this. After all, we are smart, educated people. Over-educated, some might say. We are both artists. We work with our hands to paint, draw, photograph, cook, write, sketch, and so on...all skills that require us to use our hands in various ways. We are comfortable with this ability. Generally, we are capable. But swaddling was not our forte and the blanket crumpled around her in anguish that reflected our daughter's feelings on being given up to our care.

Note the hand, making its way out of the swaddle, even as she slept.
It turned out, on some level, this was ok. Avonlie, its safe to say, quickly changed her mind about her feelings on swaddling as she flailed her little arms around when swaddled and found ways of maneuvering them out of the swaddle, liberating us from our swaddling obligations within the first 24-48 hours of taking her home from the hospital. She wanted those arms free to flail about and no amount of swaddling was going to stop her from getting them that way. "She's like a little Houdini," Dustin remarked in awe as we watched our mostly swaddled daughter turn bright red and scream bloody murder while ripping her arms out from the swaddle's vice grip. We eventually gave in and resorted to swaddling her from the chest down.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Barnes and Noble Incident(s)

Dustin and I have found ourselves hunkered down at a table full of books and laptops, surrounded by the scent of ground coffee beans for a typical grad-student afternoon of haunting the local coffee shop. The difference is that the local coffee shop we're haunting is a cross between the Barnes and Noble book mogul and their equally megalomaniacal partner Starbucks. Don't misunderstand me, unlike my graduate school colleagues, I actually harbor no real resentment for corporate America. I have definitely seen the self-proclaimed, corporate-hating, hypocritical hipster self-consciously wandering the aisles of Wal-Mart, slipping, eventually, into a state of ease when they have finally convinced themselves they will not run into a colleague that will smirk and mentally call them out on their blasphemy. Then, shiny, Wal-Mart-logo-bearing, stuffed cart will turn a corner only to come face-to-face with me. And I smile, of course, and engage them in slow, steady conversation, watching them wriggle like Prufrock, uncomfortable in the spotlight of their hypocrisy. That's the secret: they subscribe to it whether they want to admit it or not.

However, despite my semi-nefarious satisfaction and indulgence in another's discomfort, I have learned to dislike Barnes and Noble for an entirely different reason than my colleagues, and I actually mean it. A month or so ago, when D and I came in to visit the shiny books and to fan the scent of their nascent pages past our noses, we skipped through the rows and rows of newness, opened and closed literary journals to note the writers we knew, the ones we liked and the ones we hated, turning up our snobbish writer noses at the lack of craft here or the crassness in the voice, a direct attribute of the writer, there, secretly contemplating and scolding myself for my own lack of actually submitting my work anywhere...and then, I came across this:

And stopped in my tracks. Why is James Frey and any of his work in the biography section? This would denote that the accounts in his books were true, an outrage I've managed to cultivate in many students by the mere statistic that 90% or more of A Million Little Pieces was fabricated. Yet, there they were, staring smugly at me as I had done to so many hipsters in Wal-Mart. In disbelief, I backed away from the shelf, trying to convince myself there was no "right" place for A Million Little Pieces, but that certainly, Barnes and Noble was not the high court judge in position to make that ruling. I made my way uncertainly through the aisles, no longer sure of what they held, in search of Dustin. It was time, I thought, to leave this place.

As I wandered past the massive, catch-all "Literature" section, bleary-eyed, I found focus again on the placard that read "Teen Non-Fiction," a welcoming, familiar word: Non-Fiction, and breath found its way back through my lungs. Until, again, I was struck in horror, frozen and mortified to see this:

Look closely. Do you see it? Wicked. The Clique. Love Bites. These are the titles listed under "Teen Non-Fiction." These vampire love sagas and Gossip Girl-mimicking novels have been placed under a section that claims to be full of truth, and all its many definitions and facets.

It was there that Dustin found me, statue-still, mouth agape in disbelief.

We left after that fateful day in late August and haven't returned again until today, almost two full months later. Since then, Dustin has informed me of the bookstore's surprise announcement of putting themselves up for sale. We've discussed the fall of the printed word and I have managed to conjure up a sense of sympathy for the chain store, one that really stems from my love for the heft of a book in my hand, the sheen of its glossy cover and creak of its ream of pages when opened for the first time. It's taken some time and distance for me to begin to forgive and forget Barnes and Noble's indiscretions, though, to move beyond what it has done, to redefine my expectations of the corporate bookstore, and that's ok. I've accepted it for what it is now and have not yet wandered through its aisles or diverted my pregnant path from our table in the Starbucks area to the bathroom a mere fifteen second walk away. The joy I felt in fanning pages of untouched books and scanning the table of contents for familiarity in journals is still feasible, as long as I confine my attention to the books at hand and not the section labels they fall beneath. Barnes and Noble and I have an understanding.

Today I have found a different bone to pick during my experience here. An entirely unexpected qualm with space-invasion that, actually, has more to do with social norms of people and respect for comfort zones than anything boostore or corporate-related. On my first trip to the bathroom, I followed a direct path to the ladies room, opened the door and found four empty stalls to choose from. Despite having learned from a pop-up-video of Jewel's song "Who Will Save Your Soul" that the first stall is the most underused, I chose the second stall. It was early, the stalls still reeked of disinfectant, so I felt secure in my choice. No sooner do I get ready to actually "go" to the bathroom, then the door opens and another occupant enters, choosing the stall directly beside me. Stage fright ensues and, annoyed, I pull my clothes back in order and leave the restroom in a huff thinking back on an essay Dustin once wrote about "liking his space" and choosing the handicap stall as a result...and, of course, the hilarity that occurred after that fateful choice was made in Italy.

"I get your essay now. About wanting your space in the bathroom and choosing the handi-stall," I breathe at him while noting he is still in the exact spot in line to order coffee as he was when I left.
"Why? What do you mean?"
I relay the tale of the six (four) stalls all being open and how the lady chooses the one open stall (two) directly beside me to use instead of any of the five (three) vacant ones that were available. I press him for more thought on why I feel so violated; he shrugs, orders us coffee and we sit.
"I couldn't even go because she was there. Right next to me. It was like we were in the same stall or something. She had her pick and yet she had to be right next to me? What is that? I bet guys don't do that with urinals, right?"
"No," he says. "It's guy code."
I raise my eyes in question.
"Guy code, like..." His eyes search around for something to write on before removing the sleeve from his cup of coffee and pulling a pen from his pocket, then he draws five small rectangles. "These are urinals." He places a stick figure on every-other one, leaving two vacant. "If you come in and there's a guy here, here and here, then you wait, even though these two are empty. So everyone has their space."
"How do you know to do that?"
"Maxim," he says. "But, they just put it in print. We all just know and do that anyway." He traces over the stick figures again with his pen, his face focused in concentration. "But when we're drunk and there's a line, it's like you just do whatever. It's like, Fuck. I gotta go. I'm not gonna look at your dick, man. And you just go."

I beeline to the bathroom again when baby has been using my bladder as a trampoline for so long I just can't hold it anymore, only this time it's not vacant and there's a woman in the handi stall. It's quiet, so I have a good feeling I know what she's doing down there. I choose the very first stall, the polar opposite of the one she's in, leaving two empty stalls between us and pee like I'm being timed for a world record. Halfway through my rush, I hear her pulling at the toilet paper, an attempt I recognize as one to mask sound, so I do the same. I don't want her to feel rushed or self-conscious because I'm in there and she can no longer have her privacy. I make a loud show of flushing the toilet and snapping the metal lock open, turning the water on high so it's loud, and unrolling the handpaper at the same time so I cut down the time she has to "hold back" whatever noises she's trying not to make. I finish up quickly and bolt out the door, knowing that, whether she realizes it or not, my sensitivity to her predicament has left her with a sense of relief from embarrassment. A sense of relief she can now enjoy in the privacy of an empty bathroom for however long it takes.

"How was it?" D asks as I return to the table feeling like I'd performed the act of a samaritan.
"Better," I say. "But I have to admit...between the poor section titles and the bathroom situation, if I were Barnes and Noble, I'd probably put myself up for sale, too."

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Evening Conversations

A brief interaction or two to demonstrate the dynamic between me and the best husband ever.

"Sometimes it feels as though my legs don't know how to work anymore. They don't feel like anything and it freaks me out." Pause. I wait.
"Mhmm." Dustin responds.
"Does that ever happen to you?" I ask, wanting to confirm that this unfamiliar and strange feeling is not, in fact, strange.

We're hanging out in the new homestead with some Vivaldi playing on our Christmas-present-cable which presents us with a Classical Music-station, among several others, not least of which includes a score of Mexican music stations, some techno and, of course, the ever-necessary indecipherable rap. I realize we've lived in this home for going on a month and a half, but since we only just got rid of the end of the boxed stuff on the bottom two floors of the house, it feels brand new all over again (unboxed, that is). D is reading Plato's "Republic" on his Kindle and occasionally goading me into conjuring up my previous philosophy-major self (who read it twice for school and once more for fun before reading it yet another time for comps a year ago) and would've been glad to expound on it for hours. When he's not goading me, he's reading passages aloud that demonstrate Plato's sexism or other odd argument Dustin finds sort of appalling and humorous, at the least, dogmatic and outdated to our liberal mindsets.

When he finishes a particularly female-bashing passage, I comment:
"It was different back then, though. I mean, he liked men."
"That's obvious," D says reading more examples of Plato's hatred for women from the book.
"No. I mean. He liked men. The Greek philosophers, a lot of them, were gay. They liked men and some of them thought it was unnatural to be with a woman."
Dustin turns this over, trying to decide whether I'm lying or not, then gestures toward the laptop on my lap, "Google "Plato" and "gay."
I do. He reads the support to my claim.
"Ok. Now google "Aristotle" and "gay."..."Socrates..."
Again and again the proof is evident.
Google headlines regarding "Leonidas" and "gay" yield the following results:
               A Facebook Fan Page titled: "I'd go gay for King Leonidas" and
               "A gay day in Thermopylae."

"Soulmates came from Plato, but there's a reason he chose the "bellybutton" as where the two parts to a soulmate split rather than, well, the more obvious separation a man and woman would have. He was thinking of two men as soulmates, not two people of the opposite sex."
Silence as he absorbs these new revelations.
"You know...Plato's discussion on soulmates. The "Symposium?"
He explains that, clearly, he's familiar with this concept, but wasn't aware it came from Plato. Understandable since not all people spent their early tween years wandering the local library's stacks in search of the logic to support what I cynically and innocently believed were irrational claims of being "in love" and having a "soulmate." In my search, I found the philosophers, since I couldn't imagine anything going further back to the beginning of those concepts than them. Now, though, I can see Dustin storing up these pieces of information on Plato, the Greek philosophers, "The Republic," rethinking and revisiting movies he's seen or books he's read, all in the flash of a moment. Sheer enlightenment comes over him.
"So ancient Greece was pretty much the gayest place ever." He states, picking his Kindle back up and seeing Plato more clearly now.

We both go back to our individual reading and writing. Vivaldi serenades in sweeping strings and staccato plucks. The soft chirps of our parakeets who have been covered up for the night peek out from behind their transparent sheet. The German shepherd's deep, sleepy sigh escapes at my feet.

"He's describing a pretty Fascist state," Dustin remarks, "And he's going to bang all these guys."

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Our Baby: First Glimpse

Maybe now is also a good time to mention that this blog might see even less postings from Dustin since some of his friends and I have coaxed him into beginning his own blog. It's in the works, and he's not ready to unveil it yet, but it allows him to make whatever changes and calls he wants on it. I think we all need our own blog every once in a while :) Plus, this one doesn't really have a goal or voice yet, and the one he's putting together is going to have both, so once he's ready, I will unveil it to you, silent world.

Since you probably miss Dustin as much as I do when I'm only at work for eight hours or he's at work for five, let me tell you a quick "Dustin Realization" story.

Around week 16 of our pregnancy (we're about to end our 21st week on Monday, so come Tuesday we'll be 21 weeks and a day), we went to the doctor for a regular check-up and ultrasound. The ultrasound tech had me lay down, hike up my dress then SPLAT (think Juno-style) she squirts stuff on my belly and starts running it around. Dustin sits down in a chair to my left, the tech is to my right and a good-sized, elevated television is rigged up on the wall in front of me.

"So we're going to be able to see it this time, right?" he asks.
"You got it." The tech responds, moving the device on my belly around.
"Where will we be able to see it...over there?" He starts to stand up, preparing to go around me to the tech's side where he can see the baby on her monitor.
"No, no. You can see it from there."
Dustin sits back down. "Where?"
"Right up there," she gestures to the wall I'm facing and we both look up to see it:
"Oh, my God," he says, leaping out of the seat and walking closer. "That's our baby? Oh, my God. Neesh, are you seeing this? It looks like a baby now. Oh, my God."

It might've been the greatest reaction I've ever seen. As I lay there, his back to me in a silhouette against the light shining out from the screen showing us our baby, I kept thinking about how moments before we came into the ultrasound room, I'd tried to remind Dustin that the baby no longer looked like a tiny grain of rice, the way it had when we went for our first ultrasound during our very first visit to the doctor. I knew this because I was reading baby books to keep up with how our baby was growing and what parts of it had taken shape. I expected the baby to look something like a baby and knew that D was still envisioning a mass of cells or that early grain of rice, despite my reading aloud to the book about what was happening with the baby during week (fill in the blank with any number up to 16), but I never could've imagined the reaction he displayed. It couldn't have been more perfect. Watching him stand there in amazement, I felt my face widen in a smile.

Finally, he tore his eyes away from the baby, who was now amazing us with its dexterity as it performed flips and turns, stretched its legs up, putting its feet on my uterus and bending its knees before putting its arms up for us as if to let us know it had two and was developing just fine. "That's our baby," D said, stumbling back to me, groping for my hands and nearly grabbing the goo on my belly. "That's our baby."

When we heard the heart beat for the first time that day, as well, the reaction was similar and I felt lucky, all over again, for having married such a wonderful, expressive, genuine man and soon-to-be proud father.