Friday, May 24, 2013

Diaper shenanigans

So here's the part where I ask for some help.

We are using cloth diapers, prefolds with plastic covers. This is a cheapskate way to go for us because we had (some) left over so didn't need to buy new stuff. It worked well with the kid because she was a petite kid who grew slowly and that's cool. However, Little Monster is not a petite baby. Thunder thighs on this one (sooooo cute).

Currently we have been using small diapers (and we own some large ones) with Thirsties size 1 covers and some Bummis small covers (both velcro), with one snaps Sweet Pea cover that's supposed to fit up to 35 lbs that is kinda flimsy so I don't think I'm likely to buy more. We are at the largest setting of snaps on the Thirsties and it's about time to start buying some larger covers so we are ready for when she has outgrown these entirely. Width wise, there's some room yet but I think we'll run out of length first in both types. We have 10 covers and 3 dozen or so diapers in circulation, which is about right to do laundry every other day (diapers one day and covers the next).

So here's the question: do we go with the Thirsties since they are coming a bit cleaner than the Bummis, or do we try some universal covers, or some fancy non-prefold diapers? What do you love about whatever kind of cloth diapers you're using and why? If you have fitted or pocket diapers, how many and how are they holding up/fitting on your big kid who's over a year old (if you have one)?

Thursday, May 23, 2013


I am taking 2 full weeks off from school and studying and also largely my computer. We as a family are taking a short trip out of town and I am trying very hard to detach from my computer for a bit. Today I'm turning it off and it won't come back on for a week, so my apologies for not commenting. I am reading on my mobile doodad but comments just don't work on that thing. Pesky mobile doodad.

I am reading a whole stack of random romance novels, though. Brain candy. They span from modern Highland romance/treasure hunt to Regency romance to Nora Roberts. I've already tossed one into the "read" (rhymes with the color) pile without reading it because it was so awful. Just painful. Mostly they are intriguing enough to hold my attention. I like the formula.

Maybe you didn't know this, but when you learn about teaching English, you actually learn about 4 parts of it: teaching writing, reading, speaking, and media literacy. Everyone in my department in undergrad had a favorite one of those, and mine was the odd duck out. I really like media literacy. My favorite undergrad class was something about media criticism. I wrote a research paper about ads for minivans in different parenting magazines and how they showed the class differences in the way the magazines were marketed.

I just have a hard time turning off my media crit brain. I analyze structure and formula and ponder why about most things, especially in advertising or art that's meant to be commercial (movies, books, etc). It doesn't stop. Like I contemplate why mix photos of cupcakes and drawings of cupcakes on the front of some kid sticker/activity book, or why non-pretty girl characters are so unsuccessful in movies while unconventionally beautiful characters can succeed (Ugly Betty comes to mind).

That's why I like reading such formulaic books, I think. I know the formula well and therefore because the books adhere to it so carefully, I don't have to pay attention to the formula anymore. It lets me put my media crit sense on autopilot because there are no surprises.

Anyway, it's back to vacationing from the computer. I got it out to redeem a groupon for my very first board exam review course... so that's amazing. Only another year of classes! FINALLY.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My body, myself

There's this part of the Kalevala as sung by Ruth Mackenzie (coolest album I ever stumbled upon in the library, by the way, and my kid adores it) where Aino (she's the lady in the story whose brother sells her into marriage with a sorcerer and she decides to drown herself instead of marrying him, only to come back as a salmon, or maybe she got a spell to change herself into a salmon) sings about the change in her body from woman to fish, with lots of wailing. That's how I feel about this body of mine.

Post-partum with the kid, I lost all the weight I'd gained within a month (and it was pushing 60 lbs on my already overweight frame). Then when we weaned and I loafed around with a broken ankle for several months, I gained it all back. Ugh. Then after the first miscarriage I lost about 20 lbs and hovered around there a year, then back up that 20 lbs again after the second miscarriage, then back down again after the third one (although that was more a medical deal than me obsessing about food and I'd lost about 10 lbs in the 10 weeks I was/wasn't pregnant because I was so sick). That 20 lbs has been wandering around a long time now, 3.5 years later. It's the weight that's been tied up in my struggle with infertility, going up when things are bad or down again when they are worse.

I had a hard time coping with how my body changed during the pregnancies that failed early, and then waiting around thinking I shouldn't start any rigorous exercise because I might get pregnant at any moment... and then of course not being pregnant again for a year. After the third miscarriage and while waiting to figure out why I was uninterested in eating, I was so glad to see that 20 lbs go away without me intervening, even if it was disconcerting to lose weight without dieting or exercising.

My body. It's a complex thing. I know I will never be a thin person, not ever. My body just isn't built for thin. At the weight where I'm happiest I'm a size 16/18. I can be in shape and move around properly and all that jazz there. Is it possible for me to be thin? Yeah. I tried that. I quit eating for a few months as a teenager and suddenly I got noticed by guys and was so thin (well, for me. I hit a size 10 at the lowest, and I wasn't skeletal but I look hollow to myself in pictures). It was weird and scary to realize all of what had gone down during that period looking back. It was a time I was totally detached from my body and just moved it around.

So I worry about that end of things much more than I worry about being fat. I'm used to fat. It's me and I don't generally mind it. I am tired of the struggle to move though. I have an arthritic hip and it is so much worse because I am hauling extra weight on it.

Now, at 3 months postpartum again, I am gearing up to run a 5k in July. It's a slow gearing up and I worry about milk supply while doing all this, but I want to feel like me again. I have felt like my body isn't mine to take charge of for a long time (first lose weight because it might help you get pregnant, then don't lose any weight so you can stay pregnant, but that didn't work anyway so give up trying to control it at all and lose weight anyway, then gain only a little weight while you're pregnant). It is time. Today is my first day of training (well, yesterday since that's when I wrote this). I'm doing a couch to 5k training deal, repeating each day. In July I aim just to finish. Maybe someday I'll get to working on improving my time, but for now, finishing.

I just hate that my body is so awkward. It's hard to get around on the floor to play with the girls, but I do it. It hurts a lot, but I'm doing it anyway. I'm looking forward to less pain and more fun.

I'm also trying really hard to focus on healthier eating. Not eating less, not necessarily tracking what I eat with the intent to count calories or anything, just healthier. When I get into a cycle of unhealthy eating, it can be bad. It can be dangerous. I can very easily totally break my sense of hunger and being full and I am not going there again if I can avoid it. I am feeding me and a baby, so I have to eat and eat a variety of foods. I have another meeting with a dietician to see if we can figure out something like a proper diet for me with all the allergy limits, and I'm going to go shopping with the grocery store dietician to see if she has any ideas for healthy but quick meals either.

I would say that I am not inclined to make time for me and that I'm worse about it now that I'm a mother. When I am tired, I don't feel like exercising, so I loaf about and feel worse because I'm guilty and inactive. BUT having a non-eating kid, I can see that healthy eating is something she needs modeled for her. Even if she spends weeks sitting at the dinner table and not eating, I aim for my kid to see what healthy eating looks like.

It's an experiment, this attempting to get into shape, but I am hopeful that if we can make it work now, we can maintain from here on out. (You'll notice I am being very good and not mentioning anyone else who lives in my house and how other persons have gained much more weight than me and are going to have a bigger project getting into shape, but that "we" there is for the both of us because we eat together and therefore we need to be healthier together too.)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Straight enough

One of the things that's hard for me is how very straight my class is. Most of my classmates are in serious relationships, and I think universally ones with opposite-gendered folks. It is weird.

I have mentioned before, but it bears repeating. I went to art school. Not one of those places on earth where a relationship with the opposite gender matters. At all. I think there my class was about 50% straight or in an opposite-gendered relationship. On a particularly straight day at least.

So it is weird, so very weird to me to spend so much time hearing from women friends about husbands and boyfriends and zero girlfriends. So weird.

I grew up in this tiny little town, population quite literally 50% practicing Catholic, very close to no out gay people. The guy who ran a beauty parlor and built a lovely house with his (male) partner? It mysteriously burned down just weeks after completion and nobody could figure out how that happened. Not a very safe place to be gay, even when totally quiet about it, if not in the closet. I haven't heard of any mysterious deaths but that part of the story Brokeback Mountain rang true to me as something that could happen, not just fiction. (sidenote: I read the short story and loved it so much I refuse to see the film lest it get ruined).

For me, art school was such a welcome safe haven. I was FREEEEEE! I could be as indecisively gendered as I wanted. I could be as indecisively straight as I wanted. I figured out that I am bi in that safe space, and I got used to the idea of finding my female life mate (when I say bi, what I mean in reference to me, is that I lean about 75% female, 25% male in the attraction realm).

And then this weird thing happened. I met the love of my life, and we got married, and we look very straight from the outside.

While we were at the ER this past weekend, the spouse went back to be inspected immediately and I changed and fed the baby (one car so it was a family trip). Once she was happily cooing away about 20 minutes later, a nurse turned up and asked if I would like to go back to be with my husband. What a series of presumptions! As an equal rights person, I am not a fan of the terms husband or wife. They have baggage and it bugs me to use them to describe the relationship we have, so we don't. We intentionally choose spouse or to use first names when talking about each other. And presuming that because we have children in tow we are married? Whoa leap of judgement there.

It reminded me of a few other ER trips I've participated in over the years. Once I fell and sprained my ankle and a transgender friend drove me to the ER. She was recently transitioned so it was obvious to anybody that she wasn't born in a she body. I went by myself to be inspected, and maybe an hour later, a (male) nurse stopped by to ask if I "wanted my...friend... to come back to wait with" me. Of course I said yes. I was lonely and in lots of pain and bored with the 2 old magazines in my reach (hint to medical providers: put reading materials within reach of immobile ER patients). I think I even said that it would be really nice if she could come back.

Nobody ever invited her back or talked to her at all, even after that very chilly suggestion that she be invited back. I sat alone for a couple of hours, so did she.

I was also reminded of doing chart review at my hospital internship, looking for medication errors that might have made a person sicker (and there were only one or two avoidable ones in the 300+ charts I reviewed). I read the chart of a guy dying of AIDS and every doc note I looked at talked about his friend Bob (no that wasn't the real name). His friend. His friend brought him to the ER and his friend was there all night and at the care conference and has power of attorney and is to be consulted about all care decisions. His friend. Not his spouse, not his partner, his friend. I hate that language too. It is so inadequate to describe a loving partner relationship like I imagine those guys had. It is so awful that we choose to describe unmarried couples as "friends" and it's one reason it irks me when people my age wait for ages to get married. If one dies before the wedding, the other MIGHT get mentioned in the obituary as a "special friend" and it breaks my heart to see that because it doesn't do justice to the relationship.

When you love someone, and you intend to spend your life with them, I say get married or acknowledge the relationship with some ceremony or other. Don't wait until you can afford a big wedding. Don't wait until you feel financially stable (this might be never). Don't wait until the state says you're legal.

So what I'm getting at is that we as a world need to recognize and acknowledge that families come in different shapes. You're a family if you are two people waiting for a baby with many fur babies of whatever gender (or plant babies like we started with). You're a family if you are two ladies or two gentlemen. You're a family if you have children or if you don't or if you adopt some. You're a family starting when the two adults commit to love and relationship for life. We may need new language for this, but it's about time.

There's complexities around being bi that I don't actually care about discussing as the rest of the internet has it covered with debunking myths. Just know that it is real in my life, I am not confused or experimenting with being straight or any of that nonsense. You love the person you love, whether they match your gender or are opposite it and whether they started out that gender or not. I'm still working out how to explain this to the girls and how to parent knowing that the odds are reasonable and certainly more than zero that one of them turns out also not so straight.

Can we please just stop with the presumption that everyone is straight and married, or should be both of those?

EDITED to add: if this isn't your experience at all, go play this game. It's just so... exactly right.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

In which there are bullet points

It's mothers day today. I will always feel weird about it I think. It is hard. Our faith community had a white rose up front in honor of those who need healing around mothers day, which I liked. That's so simple. Healing for those hurt by mothers, healing for those with angel babies, healing for those waiting on babies for far too long. Just healing.

It's very surreal to me that there's only one more mothers day I'll spend studying for finals, and one I'll take the day off studying for boards to hang out with the girls. After oh man way too many years in college, I am really looking forward to being done. Sometimes I ponder getting another degree (MBA or MPH) but I have decided that I'd only get board certified in something instead of paying tuition for more letters to go after my name.

I think we (Little Monster and me) may finally be nearing the end of the cold of perpetual hacking. We're both down to 3-5 coughing fits a day (from too many to count last week).

I'm planting my veggies outside tomorrow. It is time. I can pretend it's spring enough for green beans to go outdoors.

It is a struggle to study. I don't wanna. I need a nap.

Cancer sucks. With one classmate dead and one dying of it, it's just rotten and keeps reminding me that there's no safety in youth. When I worked in the pharmacy, we had a pediatric cancer patient. He'd been getting treatments for about 2 years when I met him. It just breaks your heart.

I ran across the story of Emily Jerry not too long ago. She was a pediatric cancer patient whose chemo worked, worked really well, miraculously well. Her doctors decided to give her one last cycle of chemo to be sure they got it all, and a pharmacy technician made her chemo IV terribly wrong and the pharmacist didn't catch the error. It was a fatal error and Emily died. It reminds me that we need systems in place that help us catch our mistakes. It reminds me that we shouldn't do things to people like let them work a double shift, sleep for 8 hours (or less) and then be back at work. 36 hour shifts in hospitals are dangerous and we need to stop doing things like that. As patients we need to demand better care and as providers we need to demand better working conditions.

Little Monster is getting huge. HUGE baby. Having previously had a petite baby, it is very strange to have such a larger baby. She is now just about 3 months old and moving into 6 month sized clothes, some of which are already too small. She's going to be out of sync with the Kid's wardrobe really fast since she's running through clothes so fast.

I'll have a post soon on cloth diapers since I need some help. Miss Giant Baby is outgrowing her covers and I have to decide about one size versus more prefolds.

I think we've tentatively decided that we will stay put until I'm done with school and that if the spouse doesn't have a job after this contract ends, either it's back to school (in the plan but not until I had a job post-PharmD) or just home to care for the girls for the year so we aren't spending a fortune on childcare. It's mostly good to have a plan, if you ask me.

Tomorrow we start daycare for Little Monster full time, which is good. Mostly good. Probably good. I need to study for finals (well, the one final) and she helps the Kid out enormously status-wise at daycare. Babies are the coolest thing ever according to the rest of the daycare kids, but only the Kid gets to feed her bottles (probably just for now, maybe forever) and help with her and tickle her under the chin. It will still be hard. I will cry more.

I'm very pleased with myself for getting plastic boxes to store frozen milk in the giant chest freezer. The lids to the boxes don't fit, but it doesn't really matter either. I just about gave myself frost bite moving everything from random cardboard boxes into the plastic ones. Only 50 bags of milk to go before I've hit my storage goal for the week I'll be out of town in the fall! I enjoy organizing things just a little bit too much.

The highlight of this mothers day weekend was a trip to the ER after the spouse whacked off a piece of finger while grating cheese. I was out shopping and arrived home to "I thought you were never going to get here, so I went ahead and finished making lunch but it's still in the oven. See? I cut my finger and I think I need to go to the ER. But not until after lunch." Then I saw the blood. Lots of blood all over the place. So after a short trip to the ER (somehow when you're about to drip blood through your second plastic bandage, you get moved to the front of the line), the spouse has a We're Number One! bandage and orders to not change any diapers (or do any other dirty things) for a few days without gloves. Somehow we made it home with no gloves... hmm. Then we got ice cream and everyone was pretty happy. Little Monster wore a 12 month sized dress all day that I put her in just for fun and intending to take it off within the hour because I was sure it would be huge. It wasn't. It was only a little bit too big. HUGE baby!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Decision circus

I feel like all this "and what rotations will you do? What do you want to be when you're done?" consideration and discussion is turning into a circus. Maybe a horrible carousel ride where I can't get off and I can't see things clearly either.

It's almost finals and I should really be studying. I'm gonna get back to it soon. Really. Sometimes my brain just hurts.

I also have a super case of senioritis and I am so completely ready for this semester to be OVER. It isn't, but I really wish it was. I have senioritis and another full year of classes because sometimes life happens. This is to say, the classmates I started with will be starting rotations in June and I'll be figuring out if there are jobs around town I could get because I can't think of another way to keep myself occupied in the fall with only 2 classes.

So the option that most appeals to me is working for myself, doing lifestyle modifications and medication management, or computer system consulting (but I'd need a lot more training to really do that). I have no idea if I could make a living doing that though. It scares me to think about running my own business. When I mentioned this to the spouse, the response was "Well, I should brush up on my accounting skills then." Not "how will you pay back your loans?" and not "are you nuts?" That's really cool.

I feel like in a lot of ways, our lives hit a dead end this year. We were ready to take a leap and try a new path, and it turned out to crash the spouse's career, maybe forever in the current field. I crashed my on-track graduation from school with that one pesky question. Seriously. Warfarin dosing? I often wonder how I managed to screw that up because it's easy, it's just simple math, and yet the error I made would be fatal. In practice of course I would have a protocol and a nice table and it wouldn't happen unless I followed the table wrong. But still.

Now that we're at the dead end, the only way out is something unexpected. We did the expected things, tried the safe path, and hit a wall. Either we build a jet pack and launch skyward or we blow up that wall and bulldoze through to something new.

It's actually really freeing to know that I am free to dream. So long as we can pay our bills and keep a roof over our heads, the sky is the limit.

Now I need to figure out how to make my rotations work for me. How do I make my rotations fit so I can achieve that dream of working for myself? Where on earth do we go and do we even try to make it happen in one place, or do we spend a year with me being a nomad and only home on weekends?

I'm still pondering it. There's so much to ponder and I have only a few more months to start prioritizing my requests and networking as much as possible to get spots I'm interested in (in places I'd like to be for 5 weeks at a time).